Covid: Two jabs 'not enough to stop Omicron infection' and highest UK cases since January
Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Friday evening. We'll have another update for you tomorrow morning.
1. Two vaccine doses don't stop you catching Omicron - scientists
Two doses of a Covid vaccine are not enough to stop you catching the Omicron variant, UK scientists have warned. Early analysis of Omicron and Delta cases in the UK showed the vaccines were less effective at stopping the new variant. However, a third booster dose significantly increased protection to around 75%. The UK Health Security Agency said vaccines were still likely to offer good protection against severe Covid that needed hospital treatment.
2. UK records 58,194 daily cases - the highest since January
Cases in the UK continue to climb, with a further 58,194 infections reported on Friday, according to official figures. This is the highest number of cases reported since 9 January, when there were 59,937. It comes as the UKHSA estimates Omicron will become the dominant variant by mid-December. Some 1,265 cases of Omicron have been identified in the UK - but scientists say the true total is far higher. The UK also recorded another 120 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
3. Scotland faces 'tsunami' of Omicron cases - Sturgeon
Scotland is facing a "tsunami" of Omicron cases as a new wave of the pandemic is about to begin, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned. From Saturday, Ms Sturgeon said all household contacts of any Covid cases in Scotland should isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status and even if they initially get a negative PCR test (read the full details here). Meanwhile, Wales' Covid rules could change before Christmas after First Minister Mark Drakeford said he would review them week-by-week.
4. UK residents jabbed abroad can now use NHS Covid Pass
UK residents vaccinated overseas or in Northern Ireland can now use England's NHS Covid Pass if they have received two doses of a UK-approved jab. Those eligible can also now arrange a booster in England. The four jabs approved by the UK's medicines regulator are AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Janssen and Moderna. Previously only those who had the jab in England, Scotland, Wales or the Isle of Man could use the pass to prove their vaccination status. Next week, the pass will be needed to get into nightclubs and other large venues in England.
5. Pastor's joy as £10k Covid fine for church meet dropped
Prosecutors have dropped their case against a pastor who was handed a £10,000 fine for holding a church gathering in a pub car park. Chizumie Dyer, 47, told the BBC she was "thrilled" at the decision. She was handed the fine for holding the meeting in February in Nottingham. Although the country was in lockdown at the time, the pastor argued it was a religious event and so exempt. On Thursday, Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard the Crown Prosecution Service had withdrawn its case. No reason was given for the decision.
And there's more...
From today, face masks have become compulsory in more settings in England. Find out what's changed - and the rules in the rest of the UK - here.
You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.
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