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COVID live UK news: 'Do not make mistake of thinking Omicron can't hurt you,' Boris Johnson says, as booster jabs brought forward – Sky News

Coronavirus latest as Boris Johnson says all adults in England will be offered booster vaccines by the end of the year; UK confirms another 1,239 cases of Omicron; Northern Ireland’s COVID passport scheme comes into force.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has urged people to get a booster jab as soon as possible, saying “two doses are not enough but three doses provide excellent protection against symptomatic infection”. 
The UK is now expanding the booster programme “to a level we’ve never seen before”, he said. 
This means there will be more vaccination centres, and they will be open seven days a week for at least 12 hours a day. 
Some centres may even be open for 24 hours, Mr Javid said. 
However, he said it is unlikely they will be open on Christmas Day.
The health secretary has warned the Omicron variant is “spreading at a phenomenal rate” and infections are continuing to double every two to three days. 
The rate of its spread is “something we’ve never seen before”, he told Sky’s Kay Burley. 
Repeating Boris Johnson’s words from yesterday, he said the UK is facing a “tidal wave of infection” and we are “once again in a race between the vaccine and the virus”.
He will be taking questions from Kay Burley in the next few minutes.
The UK’s largest airlines and travel companies have written to Boris Johnson to say they are “deeply concerned” about the government’s approach to travel restrictions.

The letter, obtained by The Telegraph, is signed by the chief executives of eight companies including Ryanair and British Airways.
Tougher rules on travel have been enforced since the Omicron variant emerged, with international arrivals now having to take a pre-departure test and self-isolate until they have the results of a Day 2 post-arrival test.
The letter read: “As leaders of UK airlines, we are deeply concerned about the haphazard and disproportionate approach by government to travel restrictions following the emergence of the omicron variant.”
They added the timing of the restrictions so close to Christmas had “undermined customer sentiment”.
“We and our customers feel sincerely let down, having believed a more pragmatic, evidence-led approach to travel, in line with the rest of the world, had been achieved and agreed by all concerned just a few months ago,” they said.
The country is rolling out a pilot project using artificial intelligence, facial recognition and thousands of CCTV cameras to trace the movements of people infected with coronavirus.
It will be trialled first in the city of Bucheon in January, although is already coming up against concerns about the invasion of privacy.
The system will use AI algorithms and facial recognition to analyse footage gathered by more than 10,820 CCTV cameras and track COVID patient’s movements, anyone they had close contact with, and whether they were wearing a mask, a plan for the project shows.
A city official told Reuters news agency the system will reduce the strain on overworked contact tracing teams – who often work 24-hour shifts.
The contact tracing system already harvests credit card records, phone location data and CCTV footage, among other personal information, to identify contacts.
However, Bucheon mayor Jang Deog-cheon said the new system would make contact tracing much faster.
Human rights advocates and some South Korean politicians have pushed back against using the technology, fearing the government will retain and harness data beyond the needs of the pandemic.
Patients must give their consent for the facial recognition technology to be used, but the system can still track them using their silhouette and clothes even if they don’t consent. 
We’ll be bringing you all the latest coronavirus news and updates here throughout the day. 
Thank you for reading. We’ll be back in the morning with more COVID news from around the UK and around the world. 
Mr Ramaphosa is being treated for mild symptoms, an official statement said. 
It continued: “The president started feeling unwell after leaving the state memorial service in honour of former deputy president FW de Klerk in Cape Town earlier today.
“The president is in good spirits but is being monitored by the South African Military Health Service of the South African National Defence Force. 
“The president, who is fully vaccinated, is in self-isolation in Cape Town and has delegated all responsibilities to Deputy President David Mabuza for the next week.”
Sky News political correspondent Kate McCann writes:
The language was stark, but so too is the problem Boris Johnson faces. 
The country is weary of restrictions, looking forward to Christmas and tired of stories pointing to the hypocrisy of politicians. 
Many feel they have already fulfilled their pledge to get “fully vaccinated” by having two jabs over the course of the last year, while around four million have decided they won’t get inoculated at all. 
To combat that, Boris Johnson has launched an “Omicron emergency booster national mission”, describing it as “unlike anything we’ve done before in the vaccination programme”.
The initial target – to offer all adults a booster by the end of January – has been brought forward by a month.
And it was served with a warning that failure to get boosted will put the NHS at risk and affect all our freedoms. 
The PM is hoping that an unusual public address on a Sunday evening – recalling the fears of last year’s lockdown announcement – will be enough to encourage people to get their jab. 
He may also be hoping that it revives support for him as Conservative leader and prime minister too.
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