In the headlines
As panic over the new omicron variant of Covid spreads, “there are real (and justified) fears that we are heading once again into a lockdown Christmas”, says Tom Chivers in UnHerd. This morning Wales and Scotland demanded an eight-day quarantine for all new arrivals to the UK and secondary-school students have been “strongly advised” to wear masks in classrooms. The fuss is overblown, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. Nobody has been admitted to hospital with omicron, even in South Africa where the strain burst into life. “It is extremely mild,” says Dr Angelique Coetzee, the Pretoria medic who discovered it. “You are panicking.” Scientists will spend the next two weeks collecting data on the variant; in the meantime the UK will expand its vaccination programme, making every adult in the country eligible for a booster. After 400 years, Barbados will officially remove the Queen as its head of state this evening. In doing so, it will become the world’s newest republic.