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IKO NINI BWANA SEED

More than 90% of community coronavirus cases in England are now Omicron

Shoppers in Regent Street in central London. Pic: AP
More than 90% of community COVID cases in England are now Omicron, according to latest data.
As it is now by far the dominant variant, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it would stop providing Omicron-specific daily updates from 31 December.
Today, another 39,923 Omicron cases have been detected across the UK – the second-highest daily figure so far.
It takes the total number of Omicron cases identified in the UK to 210,122.
39,923 additional confirmed cases of the #Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been reported across the UK.
The last daily #OmicronVariant overview will be reported on Friday 31 December. As data has shown that Omicron cases now constitute more than 90% of all community COVID-19 cases in England, our daily dashboard will provide the most updated info on COVID-19 case figures.
The highest daily figure was on 27 December – when there were 45,307. Yesterday, 17,269 were detected.
Scotland has already stopped reporting Omicron cases separately from other COVID cases in daily reports.
Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant, but analysis by the UKHSA indicates people with Omicron are significantly less likely to develop severe symptoms.
Early results suggest people are 30 to 45% less likely to go to A&E if they are infected with Omicron rather than Delta.
They are also 50 to 70% less likely to be admitted to hospital.
But the prime minister, on a visit to a vaccination clinic in Milton Keynes, warned: “The Omicron variant continues to cause real problems. You are seeing cases rising in hospitals.”
However, he added that Omicron was “obviously milder than the Delta variant” and it meant “we are able to proceed in the way that we are”.
Boris Johnson said the jabs campaign had allowed England to maintain its current level of coronavirus controls, and no new restrictions will be brought in for the remainder of this year.
NHS England said 10,462 people were in hospital in England with COVID as of 8am on 29 December. This is up 48% from a week earlier and is the highest figure since 1 March.
In London, 3,310 people were in hospital with COVID on 29 December, up 63% week-on-week and the highest number since 16 February.
During the second wave of coronavirus, the number in England peaked at 34,336 on 18 January.
Data from 21 December showed 71% of COVID patients were primarily being treated for the virus, while 29% were there “with COVID”, suggesting they tested positive on arrival for another ailment or tested positive during their stay. Some medics call the latter group incidental COVID patients.
Mr Johnson said 90% of patients ending up in intensive care had not received booster vaccines.
He also said 2.4 million eligible double-jabbed people are yet to take up the offer of a booster, adding: “I’m sorry to say this, but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted.
“I’ve talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90% of people in intensive care who are not boosted.”
Nightclubs in Scotland and Wales are currently not allowed to open, and the rule of six is in place for pubs and restaurants in Wales.
In Scottish pubs, a one-metre distance must be maintained between tables, groups of people meeting will be limited to three households, and alcohol must only be served at the table. – skynews

A YOUNG KENYAN MAN HAS PASSED AWAY IN UK

Rio Kariuki

It is with deep sadness that we announce the sudden passing away of Rio Kariuki at the age of 19 at his home in London on 09th December 2021. Rio was a caring and loving son and brother who will be missed heavily by many he is the son of Lucy Wanjiku Kariuki of Barnet, London, United Kingdom, he was the younger sibling to Peter Kariuki, Brian Kariuki, Claudia Kariuki and O’Neil Rwehumbiza.
We are making arrangements to take Rio’s body home to Kenya where he will be laid next to his grandparents, at Riverside Farm, Plot 214 Muruaki Scheme on 21st January 2022.
Further announcements will be made regarding the church service in the UK in due course.
We appreciate your prayers, well wishes and support during this difficult season for the family, A golden heart stopped beating, A laughing smile at rest, It broke our hearts to see you go, God only takes the best.
We love you Rio forever and always.
Families and friends who wish to make contributions can do so through the following account:

Metro Bank:
Account Name: Ms L Kariuki
Account Number: 34378363
Account Sort-code: 23-05-80.

For more information please contact oneildrwes96@gmail.com

Huduma Namba to replace KRA PIN in battle against tax cheats

An officer sorts Huduma cards at the National Registration Bureau in Nyeri town on April 28, 2021.
The controversial biometric identification scheme or Huduma Namba will replace the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN in changes to the law that are designed to check tax cheats.
The government-backed Huduma Namba Bill, 2021 amends the Tax Procedure Act to make biometric ID the key number for identifying taxpayers.
This means that children offered the Huduma Namba ID will automatically be listed as taxpayers once they attain 18 years and required to file returns annually irrespective of their income status.

 

It also means that all adults will be required to register with the KRA, offering the taxman a larger pool of people than the 5.5 million that it has netted through the returns.
Filling tax returns has emerged as one of the taxman’s preferred ways to net tax cheats and
grow the income tax segments amid struggles to meet collection targets.
New Huduma Namba listing pushes cost to Sh10.6bn
The State is seeking to net individuals who have evaded paying taxes by requiring that the Huduma Namba serves as KRA personal identification number (PIN).
The number of taxpayers who filed returns in the year to June were 5.5 million while official data shows that Kenyans above 18 years are 25.64 million.
“Huduma Namba assigned to an individual under the Huduma Act, 2021 shall serve as PIN for the purpose of tax law,” the Bill, which is set for formal introduction in Parliament this afternoon states.
If it sails through, the KRA will be required to activate tax obligation of every citizen above the age of 18 years who is not registered as a taxpayer.
The law requires anyone with a PIN to file tax returns irrespective of their employment status.
Children who have enrolled into the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) or Huduma Namba will by default be registered as a taxpayer upon hitting 18 years.
The Bill requires that upon enrolment of a newborn or any other child, a certificate of birth containing Huduma Namba shall be generated from the NIIMS database.
“On completion of initial enrolment of resident individuals under the Huduma Act, the Commissioner (KRA) shall activate tax obligation of every resident individual above the age of eighteen years not registered as a taxpayer,” the Bill states in consequential amendments to several Acts of Parliament.
Kenyan adults will need this new ID to access government services, such as getting treatment at State hospitals, marrying or filing tax returns.
The government suffered a setback after the High Court declared this biometric ID scheme illegal and ordered the State to make it compatible with new data protection laws.
This is what has prompted the raft of changes to the Huduma Namba Bill, 2021 to include the replacement of the KRA PIN.
Sensitive information such as contact details, fingerprints and a person’s profession was collected in 2019. The idea was to integrate all the data the government has about an individual on various systems under one overarching ID number. The judges ruled the move was constitutional as long as that information was properly protected.
As extensive personal details would be available at the click of a button, they said that Kenyans would be at risk of suffering irreversible damage if the information was misused.
The Bill now ropes in the provisions of the Data Protection Act in the processing of personal data under Huduma Namba.
Under the Data Protection Act, a public officer who shares personal data with a third party without permission risks a fine of Sh500,000 or two years in jail or both.
The Bill imposes a Sh5 million fine or five years imprisonment to individuals who unlawfully and intentionally disclose and disseminate Huduma Namba information.
Faced with missed revenue targets, the taxman has in recent years stepped up the war on tax cheats following a presidential directive in November 2018 to investigate wealthy individuals whose lifestyles did not match their tax filings.
The KRA is racing to bring more people into the tax bracket and curb tax cheating and evasion in the quest to meet targets.
The KRA last year said that its intelligence unit had identified wealthy individuals and businesses holding Sh259 billion in unpaid taxes, setting the stage for property seizures, prosecutions and other enforcement actions.
The onslaught on tax cheats received a major boost last year after the High Court ruled that the taxman had powers to compel taxpayers to provide details of wealth they failed to disclose in their annual tax returns.
The Bill requires the KRA and other agencies to validate foundational data of individuals under their custody with the NIIMS database.
“Upon the commencement of this Act, any agency responsible for a matter set out shall validate foundational data of individuals under their custody with the NIIMS database-registration of taxpayers.”
The Bill defines foundational data to include an individual’s full name, date of birth, place of birth, gender, photograph, biometric data and nationality.
Those who give false information or make false declarations for Huduma Namba registration also face Sh3 million fine or three years in prison. – businessdailyafrica.com

 

EUROPEAN AIRLINES START CANCELLING KENYAN FLIGHTS

Europeans Airlines have started cancelling flights originating from Kenya because of Covid 19.
Cancellation of your trip – Booking ID 1871448118
Date: 21st December, 2021 – 1:45 PM
Your trip has been cancelled What happens now Hi John, Booking ID: 1871448118 Unfortunately Lufthansa has cancelled its flights for London – Nairobi, departing.

The secret prisons that keep migrants out of Europe

Tired of migrants arriving from Africa, the European Union has created a shadow immigration system that captures them before they reach its shores, and sends them to brutal Libyan detention centres run by militias.

Several makeshift warehouses sit along the highway in Ghout al-Shaal, a worn neighbourhood of auto-repair shops and scrap yards in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Formerly a storage depot for cement, the site reopened in January 2021, its outer walls heightened and topped with barbed wire

Men in black-and-blue camouflage uniforms, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, stand guard around a blue shipping container that passes for an office. On the gate, a sign reads, “Directorate for Combatting Illegal Migration.” The facility is a secretive prison for migrants. Its name, in Arabic, is Al Mabani — The Buildings.

At 3am on February 5, 2021, Aliou Candé, a sturdy, shy 28-year-old migrant from Guinea-Bissau, arrived at the prison. He had left home a year and a half earlier, because his family’s farm was failing, and had set out to join two brothers in Europe. But as he attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea on a rubber dinghy, with more than 100 other migrants, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted them and took them to Al Mabani.

They were pushed inside Cell No. 4, where some 200 others were being held. There was hardly anywhere to sit in the crush of bodies, and those on the floor slid over to avoid being trampled. Overhead were fluorescent lights that stayed on all night. A small grille in the door, about a foot wide, was the only source of natural light. Birds nested in the rafters, their feathers and droppings falling from above. On the walls, migrants had scrawled notes of determination: “A soldier never retreats,” and “With our eyes closed, we advance”. Candé crowded into a far corner and began to panic. “What should we do?” he asked a cellmate.

No one in the world beyond Al Mabani’s walls knew that Candé had been captured. He hadn’t been charged with a crime or allowed to speak to a lawyer, and he was given no indication of how long he’d be detained. In his first days there, he kept mostly to himself, submitting to the grim routines of the place.

The prison is controlled by a militia that euphemistically calls itself the Public Security Agency, and its gunmen patrolled the hallways. About 1,500 migrants were held there, in eight cells, segregated by gender. There was only one toilet for every 100 people, and Candé often had to urinate in a water bottle or defecate in the shower.

Migrants slept on thin floor pads; there weren’t enough to go around, so people took turns — one lay down during the day, the other at night. Detainees fought over who got to sleep in the shower, which had better ventilation. Twice a day, they were marched, single file, into the courtyard, where they were forbidden to look up at the sky or talk. Guards, like zookeepers, put communal bowls of food on the ground, and migrants gathered in circles to eat.

The guards struck prisoners who disobeyed orders with whatever was handy: a shovel, a hose, a cable, a tree branch. “They would beat anyone for no reason at all,” Tokam Martin Luther, an older Cameroonian man who slept on a mat next to Candé’s, told me. Detainees speculated that when someone died, the body was dumped behind one of the compound’s outer walls, near a pile of brick and plaster rubble.

The guards offered migrants their freedom for a fee of 2,500 Libyan dinars — about $500. During meals, the guards walked around with cell phones, allowing detainees to call relatives who could pay. But Candé’s family couldn’t afford such a ransom. Luther told me, “If you don’t have anybody to call, you just sit down.”

In the past six years, the European Union, weary of the financial and political costs of receiving migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, has created a shadow immigration system that stops them before they reach Europe. It has equipped and trained the Libyan Coast Guard, a quasi-military organisation linked to militias in the country, to patrol the Mediterranean, sabotaging humanitarian rescue operations and capturing migrants.

The migrants are then detained indefinitely in a network of profit-making prisons run by the militias. In September of this year, around 6,000 migrants were being held, many of them in Al Mabani. International aid agencies have documented an array of abuses: detainees tortured with electric shocks, children raped by guards, families extorted for ransom, men and women sold into forced labour.

“The EU did something they carefully considered and planned for many years,” Salah Marghani, Libya’s minister of justice from 2012 to 2014, told me. “Create a hellhole in Libya, with the idea of deterring people from heading to Europe.”

Three weeks after Candé arrived at Al Mabani, a group of detainees devised an escape plan. Moussa Karouma, a migrant from Ivory Coast, and several others defecated into a waste bin and left it in their cell for two days until the stench became overpowering. “It was my first time in prison,” Karouma told me. “I was terrified.”

When guards opened the cell door, 19 migrants burst past them. They climbed on top of a bathroom roof, dropped 15 feet over an outer wall, and disappeared into a warren of alleys near the prison. For those who remained, the consequences were bloody. The guards called in reinforcements who sprayed bullets into the cells, then beat the inmates.

“There was one guy in my ward that they beat with a gun on his head until he fainted and started shaking,” a migrant later told Amnesty International. “They didn’t call an ambulance to come get him that night… He was still breathing but he was not able to talk… I don’t know what happened to him… I don’t know what he had done.”

In the weeks that followed, Candé tried to stay out of trouble and clung to a hopeful rumour: the guards planned to release the migrants in his cell in honour of Ramadan, two months away. “The lord is miraculous,” Luther wrote in a journal he kept. “May his grace continue to protect all migrants around the world and especially those in Libya.”

What came to be called the migrant crisis began around 2010, when people fleeing violence, poverty, and the effects of climate change in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa started flooding into Europe. The World Bank predicts that, in the next 50 years, droughts, crop failures, rising seas, and desertification will displace 150 million more people, mostly from the Global South, accelerating migration to Europe and elsewhere.

In 2015 alone, one million people came to Europe from the Middle East and Africa. A popular route went through Libya, then across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy — a distance of fewer than 200 miles.

Europe had long pressed Libya to help curb such migration. Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s leader, had once embraced Pan-Africanism and encouraged sub-Saharan Africans to serve in the country’s oil fields. But in 2008 he signed a “friendship treaty” with Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, that committed him to implementing strict controls. Gaddafi sometimes used this as a bargaining chip: he threatened, in 2010, that if the EU did not send him more than $6 billion a year in aid money, he would “turn Europe Black”. – nation.africa.com

World Health Organisation says “an event cancelled is better than a life cancelled”

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that holiday festivities would in many places lead to “increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths” and urged people to postpone gatherings.
“An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Tedros said the Omicron variant was spreading faster than the Delta variant and was causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from the Covid-19 disease.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan added it would be “unwise” to conclude from early evidence that Omicron was a milder variant that previous ones … with the numbers going up, all health systems are going to be under strain,” Soumya Swaminathan told Geneva-based journalists.
The variant is successfully evading some immune responses, she said, meaning that the booster programmes being rolled out in many countries ought to be targeted towards people with weaker immune systems.
“There is now consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant,” Tedros told the briefing.
“And it is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 could be infected or re-infected,” Tedros said.
Their comments echoed the finding of study by Imperial College London, which said last week the risk of reinfection was more than five times higher and it has shown no sign of being milder than Delta.
WHO officials said however that other forms of immunity vaccinations may prevent infection and disease. While the antibody defences from some actions have been undermined, there has been hope that T-cells, the second pillar of an immune response, can prevent severe disease by attacking infected human cells.
WHO expert Abdi Mahamud added: “Although we are seeing a reduction in the neutralisation antibodies, almost all preliminary analysis shows T-cell mediated immunity remains intact, that is what we really require.”
However, highlighting how little is known about how to handle the new variant that was only detected last month, Swaminathan also said: “Of course there is a challenge, many of the monoclonals will not work with Omicron.”
She gave no details as she referred to the treatments that mimic natural antibodies in fighting off infections. Some drug makers have suggested the same.
But the WHO team also offered some hope to a weary world facing the new wave that 2022 would be the year that the pandemic, which already killed more than 5.6 million people worldwide, would end.
It pointed towards the development of second and third generation vaccines, and the further development of antimicrobial treatments and other innovations.
“(We) hope to consign this disease to a relatively mild disease that is easily prevented, that is easily treated,” Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert, told the briefing.
“If we can keep virus transmission to minimum, then we can bring the pandemic to an end.”
However Tedros also said China, where the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus was first detected at the end of 2019, must be forthcoming with data and information related to its origin to help the response going forward.
“We need to continue until we know the origins, we need to push harder because we should learn from what happened this time in order to (do) better in the future,” he said.
“2022 must be the year we end the pandemic.”
Since it was first reported in South Africa in November, Omicron has been identified in dozens of countries, dashing hopes that the worst of the pandemic is over.
Tedros said the strain appears to have the ability to double its infections every 1.5 to three days. “That is really fast.”
Tedros pointed out that regardless of the variant’s severity, “the sheer number of cases … may overwhelm the health system” and more people could die.
More than 5.3 million people have died since the start of the pandemic, though the true toll is believed to be several times higher.
Many vulnerable people around the world are still waiting for a first vaccine dose, and the UN health agency has said it is better to prioritise them over providing fully vaccinated health adults with boosters.
“If we are to end the pandemic in the coming year, we must end inequity,” Tedros said. – With Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

Powerful tornadoes kill more than 80 in five US states

A boat sits at rest after being sucked out of a marine dealership by a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky, on December 11, 2021.
By AFP – Mayfield, United States,
Dozens of devastating tornadoes roared through five US states overnight, leaving more than 80 people dead Saturday in what President Joe Biden said was “one of the largest” storm outbreaks in history.
“It’s a tragedy,” a shaken Biden said in televised comments. “And we still don’t know how many lives are lost and the full extent of the damage.”
As darkness fell Saturday scores of search and rescue officials were helping stunned citizens across the US heartland sift through the rubble of their homes and businesses searching for any more survivors.
More than 70 people are believed to have been killed in Kentucky alone, many of them workers at a candle factory, while at least six died in an Amazon warehouse in Illinois where they were on the night shift processing orders ahead of Christmas.
“This event is the worst, most devastating, most deadly tornado event in Kentucky’s history,” said Kentucky governor Andy Beshear, adding he fears “we will have lost more than 100 people.”
“The devastation is unlike anything I have seen in my life, and I have trouble putting it into words,” the governor told reporters.
The western Kentucky town of Mayfield was reduced to “matchsticks,” its mayor said.

Forty people rescued

The small town of 10,000 people was described as “ground zero” by officials, and appeared post-apocalyptic: city blocks leveled; historic homes and buildings beaten down to their slabs; tree trunks stripped of their branches; cars overturned in fields.
Beshear said there were some 110 people working at the candle factory when the storm hit, causing the roof to collapse.
Forty people have been rescued, but it would be “a miracle if anybody else is found alive,” he said.
CNN played a heart-rending plea posted on Facebook by one of the factory’s employees.
“We are trapped, please, y’all, get us some help,” a woman says, her voice quavering as a co-worker can be heard moaning in the background. “We are at the candle factory in Mayfield. … Please, y’all. Pray for us.”
The woman, Kyanna Parsons-Perez, was rescued after being pinned under a water fountain.
“When I walked out of City Hall this morning, it — it looked like matchsticks,” Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan told CNN.
“Our downtown churches have been destroyed, our courthouse… is destroyed, our water system is not functioning at this time, there is no power.”
“It looks like a bomb has exploded,” 31-year-old Mayfield resident Alex Goodman told AFP.
David Norseworthy, a 69-year-old builder in Mayfield, said the storm blew off his roof and front porch while the family hid in a shelter.
“We never had anything like that here,” he told AFP.
In a parking lot in downtown Mayfield, volunteers were collecting warm clothes, diapers and water for residents.
The tornado that smashed through Mayfield had rumbled along the ground for over 200 miles in Kentucky and for 227 miles overall, Beshear said.
Previously, the longest a US tornado has ever tracked along the ground was a 219-mile storm in Missouri in 1925. It claimed 695 lives.
In one demonstration of the storms’ awesome power on Saturday, when winds derailed a 27-car train near Earlington, Kentucky, one car was blown 75 yards up a hill and another landed on a house. No one was hurt.
Reports put the total number of tornadoes across the region at around 30.
At least 13 people were killed in other storm-hit states, including at the Amazon warehouse in Illinois, bringing the total toll to 83.
In Arkansas, at least one person died when a tornado “pretty much destroyed” a nursing home in Monette, a county official said. Another person died elsewhere in the state.
Four people died in Tennessee, while one died in Missouri.

Climate change

Biden promised the full assistance of the federal government and said he planned to travel to the affected areas.
Scientists have warned that climate change is making storms more powerful and frequent. Biden said that while the impact on these particular storms was not yet clear, “We all know everything is more intense when the climate is warming, everything.”
The American Red Cross said it was working to provide relief across all five states.
Beshear declared a state of emergency in Kentucky and said scores of search and rescue officials had been deployed along with the national guard.
More than half a million homes in several states were left without power, according to PowerOutage.com.
When another tornado hit an Amazon warehouse in the southern Illinois city of Edwardsville around 100 workers were trapped inside.
Hundreds of workers scrambled to rescue the trapped employees.
“We identified 45 personnel who made it out of the building safely, one who had to be airlifted to a regional hospital for treatment, and six fatalities,” Edwardsville, Illinois fire chief James Whiteford told a press conference.
Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said its workers’ safety was the company’s “top priority.” – nation.africa

Court reverses 50:50 ruling on matrimonial properties

The courts have been struggling on the question of whether spouses should split matrimonial property equally upon divorce.
The Court of Appeal judges have overturned two precedent-setting judgments that had ordered for 50:50 division of matrimonial properties.
The second-highest court in Kenya overturned the judgments made by the High Court and settled on sharing of properties based on each spouse’s contribution.
The courts have been struggling on the question of whether spouses should split matrimonial property equally upon divorce, and the issue is also pending determination at the Supreme Court.
According to Matrimonial Property Act (2013), “ownership of matrimonial property vests in the spouses according to the contribution of either spouse towards its acquisition, and shall be divided between the spouses if they divorce or their marriage is otherwise dissolved.”
In one of the annulled judgements, the appellate judges granted the woman a 10 percent share of the value of a matrimonial home only and explained that the man was entitled to 90 percent because evidence showed he paid for the property in full with no monetary contribution by the wife at all.
The appellate court noted that there was no child born from the couple’s union, hence the woman’s contribution would only fall under “companionship”.
Household chores
This is because even household chores like purchases at the supermarket were undertaken by a house help and the man’s driver.
Evidence in court indicates that the couple married in 2007 as a widow with one child and widower with three grown-up children.
Before their divorce the woman had planned to eliminate the husband so as to acquire his property, witnesses testified. – businessdailyafrica.com

COVID-19: Omicron cases being treated in hospital

Omicron ‘will be the dominant variant’
Cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant are now being treated in hospitals, cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi has told Sky News.
The education secretary also said there were currently no plans to vaccinate primary school children and that Boris Johnson would be saying more about the coronavirus booster programme “later today”.
Even if the COVID-19 Omicron mutation proves to cause less severe symptoms than the Delta variant, high infection rates could still see tens of thousands of people end up in hospital, Mr Zahawi warned.
Speaking to the Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, he said: “I can confirm to you this morning there are cases in hospital with Omicron.”
He also cautioned the new strain was “so infectious that it will dominate and exponentially grow”.
Mr Zahawi said: “Let’s do a mathematic exercise for a second. You get to a million infections by say the end of December – 1% is 10,000 severe infections that could be in hospital.
“Three days later it is two million, three days later it is four million. Three days beyond that it is eight million.
“That is the risk, that even if it is milder, say 50% milder than Delta, then the numbers are huge – it is a small percentage of a very large population.
Referring to the reimposition of restrictions to help curb the spread of the highly-contagious variant, Mr Zahawi: “The reason we are taking these proportionate, I think precautionary measures – the most significant thing, scientists tell us, is the work from home, that has the greatest impact on slowing down Omicron, hence why we’ve had to take these measures.”
Speaking as the booster programme was extended to the over 30s, Mr Zahawi said: “It is now a race between the booster and that protection, and the Omicron variant.”
He added: “We are over 20 million (booster jabs) already.
“We are now in a race to get all adults who are eligible for their booster jab to be boostered as quickly as possible, and the prime minister will be saying more about this later today.
“This is going to be a national endeavour to boost the nation as quickly as possible so we can control Omicron and bring back that equilibrium that we had with the virus, as we continue to protect the economy and of course on that journey towards endemic from pandemic status.”
Mr Zahawi also spoke out in defence of Mr Johnson, after a picture emerged of the prime minister, flanked by colleagues virtually hosting a Downing Street Christmas quiz, sparking fresh criticism. – skynews