Covid: Care homes 're-living' lockdown and businesses call for help

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Saturday morning. We'll have another update for you tomorrow.

1. Health officials urge people to get booster jabs

Health officials have renewed their call for everyone eligible to come forward for a Covid booster jab. It comes after early analysis by the UK Health Security Agency showed a third vaccine dose prevents about 75% of people from getting any Covid symptoms. On Friday, the UK reported 58,194 new Covid cases - the highest figure since 9 January - including 448 of Omicron. Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the UK faced a "deeply concerning situation" and that anti-infection measures were being kept under review.

Image source, Getty Images

2. Omicron variant sees care homes 're-living' lockdown

Care home staff and residents are re-living some of the feelings from the first Covid lockdown, with fears of new restrictions before Christmas, a care home manager has said. The emergence of the Omicron variant has left care home and families of residents concerned about the Christmas period. Bethan Mascarenhas, of the Old Vicarage care home in Llangollen, Denbighshire, said people in the home were reliving the "isolation and feelings that we all carried in the first lockdowns" and there were "a lot of unknowns".

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Care home staff say they are "reliving" first lockdown feelings

3. Businesses call on the government for more help

Firms are calling on the government for more support after Plan B Covid restrictions take effect. New restrictions coming into force to tackle the Omicron variant include increased use of Covid passes and a return to more working from home. Vicki Wilkes, owner of live entertainment venue Red by Night in the west Midlands, told the BBC her business was falling apart, adding that the situation was "soul-destroying".

Image source, Vicki Wilkes
Image caption,
Vicki Wilkes said she will lose thousands of pounds due to cancellations

4. Wales introduces weekly Covid rule reviews

Wales' coronavirus rules are now being reviewed weekly instead of every three weeks in response to the new variant, raising fears Christmas plans could be affected for a second year. The country's Health Minister Eluned Morgan has said it is too early to say if there will be festive restrictions. The organiser of a group Christmas Day lunch to combat loneliness said those attending would be "devastated" if it was cancelled by new restrictions.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Last year, plans to relax restrictions were scrapped and only two households could meet on Christmas Day

5. Compulsory vaccines: keeping each other safe or intruding on personal liberty?

Austria will be introducing a vaccine mandate from February, this will mean that vaccinations against Covid-19 will be compulsory for all. Other nations around the world are also looking at their options. This complex situation has many viewpoints, from intrusions on personal liberty, moral obligations to keep each other safe, to unfair distribution of vaccines to poorer countries. Ros Atkins takes a look at the different sides of the debate.

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Ros Atkins on… Compulsory Covid vaccinations

And there's more...

On Friday, 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.

Image source, BBC

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