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COVID news live: 'Early signs' Omicron could be dominant strain within a month, UK expert says – Sky News

Coronavirus latest as UK Omicron cases grow 50% in a day to 246; “early signs” new variant could start “outcompeting” Delta within weeks, UK expert says; a legal challenge which argues COVID hotel quarantine is a “fundamental breach of human rights” is mounted.
Analysis by our Data and Forensics Unit has found there is a large disparity in vaccine take-up across different areas. 
Among people who have had two doses, fewer than one in five in the London borough of Tower Hamlets have had a booster jab. 
Eight of the 10 least vaccinated areas in England are in the capital. 
To find out the proportion of people in your area who have had a booster, you can search our table below.
The government will reveal details of the new restrictions tomorrow, health minister Ingvild Kjerkol told public broadcaster NRK.

“These measures will be felt in our daily lives,” she said – although she did not give any further indication of what measures will be introduced.
Norway has seen rising cases of the Omicron variant after it spread to a number of people at a Christmas party in Oslo.
A total of 60 people at the party tested positive for COVID, with between 15 and 20 likely infected with the Omicron variant. 
These include 64 new cases in England, 23 in Scotland and three in Wales.
Northern Ireland has still not seen any confirmed Omicron cases.
It takes the total number of Omicron cases in the UK to 336.
The Hollywood star has revealed she had to film her latest movie while missing a tooth. 
Asked what her biggest personal challenge was during COVID, she said: “Well, I lost a tooth pretty early in the filming and I couldn’t go to the dentist until the end of the movie, so I had to film most of the movie toothless. 
“That was my personal challenge.”
Lawrence was on the red carpet to promote her new film Don’t Look Up alongside Leonardo DiCaprio.
The country has seen one of the world’s worst coronavirus waves in recent weeks, introducing a lockdown that shut most shops and services on 25 November.

Slovaks are still allowed to go to school and work but non-essential travel between districts is banned, along with most public gatherings and events, while most non-essential shops are closed.
Health minister Vladimir Lengvarsky has said he will propose a partial reopening from 17 December but it will initially be for vaccinated people or those who have recovered from COVID.
The proposal will be discussed by the four ruling parties today and a final decision is expected on Wednesday.
South Africa is preparing its hospitals for more admissions as the new Omicron variant spreads across the country.

Professor Willem Hanekom has warned the wave South Africa is in at the moment is much steeper than the curve was for previous waves of the Delta, Beta and Alpha variants.
He told Sky News that “reinfections seem to be more common during this wave so far”, suggesting the virus “may resist some aspects of the immunity that we have to protect ourselves”.
The profile of Omicron patients also “seems to be slightly different”, he said, with a larger number of younger – particularly unvaccinated – people becoming sick.
However, he said those who have been vaccinated “have been having a milder disease than one would anticipate”. 
Sajid Javid will be providing an update in the Commons later on the COVID situation, after more Omicron cases were reported in the UK. 
According to The Sun’s deputy political editor Kate Ferguson, the health secretary is expected to say there is community transmission of the new variant. 
This would mean infections are no longer confined to people who have returned from abroad, and instead it is being spread within the community. 
Nepalese authorities have reported the first cases of the Omicron variant in the Himalayan nation.
A health ministry statement said a 66-year-old foreign national who arrived by air on 19 November tested positive for the variant along with another 71-year-old person who was in contact with the tourist.
Both are being kept in isolation under the supervision of a medical team.
Authorities said 66 other people who had contact with the two confirmed cases tested negative.
Nepal has been encouraging foreign tourists to visit the country to climb and hike its famous mountain peaks in an attempt to revive its adventure tourism industry.

The mandate comes under new rules announced by New York mayor Bill de Blasio.
The vaccine mandate for private businesses will take effect on 22 December and is aimed at preventing a spike in infections during the Christmas holidays and the colder months, said the Democratic mayor.
“We in New York City have decided to use a pre-emptive strike to really do something bold to stop the further growth of COVID and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,” Mr de Blasio said. 
“All private-sector employers in New York City will be covered by this vaccine mandate as of December 22.”
Vaccinations are already required for city employees including teachers, police officers and firefighters, and a vaccination mandate for employees of private and religious schools was announced last week.
Mr de Blasio said he expects the new mandate to survive any legal challenges.
Current New York City COVID rules also include at least one vaccine dose for indoor restaurant dining, entertainment venues and fitness centres.

Further restrictions will be imposed later this week, the Polish prime minister has announced.

Mateusz Morawiecki said the new package of measures will be revealed either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
He warned the COVID situation is “not looking good”, telling a news conference that “we have many deaths”.
Vaccines will become compulsory for some jobs, he said, and there could be stronger restrictions on access to some spaces for unvaccinated people.
Poland reported 13,250 new infections and 25 deaths today, although daily figures are usually lower after the weekend. 

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