As it now looks all but certain that the Covid isolation period will be cut to five days, health bosses are accused of misleading ministers in an attempt to justify rules that have crippled the country.
The UK Health Security Agency, run by Dame Jenny Harries, admitted it was wrong to claim England’s isolation rules were effectively in line with other nations including the US, which had been a central plank of the argument in support of seven-day self isolation.
One of their central arguments was the period in the US begins later than it does in the UK, as it depended on a positive test result rather than the appearance of symptoms. It is now admitted that this is factually incorrect.
Health Editor Laura Donnelly reports that Dame Jenny has already been accused of disseminating “dodgy data” that inflated the potential risk of the omicron variant.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Boris Johnson was one of more than 100 people invited to a “bring your own booze” staff party in the Downing Street garden at the height of the 2020 lockdown.
An email sent by the civil servant who runs the Prime Minister’s private office was leaked, placing Mr Johnson under renewed pressure.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed it was “in touch with the Cabinet Office” over the gathering, prompting speculation it could open a formal investigation into an alleged breach of lockdown rules. View the email. In other news:
- the PM said cases of Covid caught in hospital are ‘unacceptable’;
- new figures demonstrate the huge impact of vaccines on deaths;
- and Nicola Sturgeon said Scots may have to wear masks for years.
Buy socks or do star jumps, energy firm suggests
One of the UK’s largest energy companies has told customers facing price increases to eat porridge or buy socks made of merino wool so they can keep costs down while staying warm. SSE Energy Services, a division of Ovo, also suggested customers do a “few star jumps” and “have a cuddle with pets or loved one” to keep cosy during the winter months. The advice is part of a long-list of energy saving tips the company has emailed to customers and published on its website amid a gas price crisis gripping the UK and Europe, which is expected to send average household bills climbing 56pc to £2,000 or more in April. Campaigners said some of the advice struck the wrong tone given the crisis.
What 10 days of healthy living does to your body
January is when millions of us set health goals, but making a resolution is not the same as keeping it. And just 10 days into the new year (Jan 1 does not count), your resolve might be waning. But before you abandon your health kick, take a look at the benefits achieved by foregoing alcohol, sugar, meat and empty carbs. Boudicca Fox-Leonard asked the experts what measurable effects might be seen in just 10 days.
Daily dose of Matt
View Matt‘s latest cartoon as he finds humour in the Novak Djokovic visa saga.
Also in the news: Today’s other headlines
Tennis becomes gripping soap opera | A day that began with a dry procedural debate in a Melbourne courtroom culminated in anarchy on the stately city’s streets, as hundreds of Novak Djokovic’s Serbian supporters exploded in anger at the Australian government’s continued efforts to throw their hero out. Chief Sports Writer Oliver Brown says never did anyone in the genteel world of tennis imagine their sport could spark such toxicity, with Victoria police firing pepper spray at protesters. And Mark Higge – Australia’s ex-ambassador to the EU – writes that the affair exposes the country’s Covid policy as hysterical and paranoid.
- World first | Man receives heart from genetically modified pig
- Claim | Ex-Tory MP who raped wife said ‘no one will believe you’
- Ancient discovery | Roman ‘dual carriageway’ found at HS2 site
- Named and shamed | Regions failing rape victims to be exposed
- Major speech | Pope takes a stand against rise of cancel culture
Around the world: Berlusconi’s move for presidency
He may be infamous for his “bunga bunga” showgirl shenanigans and still engulfed in legal battles, but Silvio Berlusconi is launching a concerted effort this week to become Italy’s next president – promising Italians political stability if he is picked. Mr Berlusconi is today expected to kick-start his campaign to become Italy’s next head of state, pledging to Italians that if they put him in the top job, then the highly respected Mario Draghi can remain as prime minister. Reporting from Rome, Nick Squires explains why that scenario would appeal to many Italians.
Comment and analysis
- Sherelle Jacobs | Omicron humiliated lockdown establishment
- Tim Stanley | Michael Gove saves PM’s bacon on cladding
- Suzanne Moore | Vulnerable women suffer in trans row
- Celia Walden | Teens’ novels would make undergraduates faint
- Reader letters | Students’ misery at superfluous restrictions
- Jabbed vs jab-nots | Why we need to learn to live with the unvaccinated
- PM’s style | How Boris Johnson needs to upgrade his running outfits
- Robbie Collin | ‘Bad news for cinema – Netflix is gunning for Oscars glory’
Sport briefing: Cup win for United
Manchester United edged a pulsating FA Cup clash with Aston Villa as Scott McTominay’s early header proved enough against Steven Gerrard’s side. The hard-fought 1-0 win set up a fourth-round date at home to Middlesbrough. Read Jason Burt‘s match report from Old Trafford. In cricket, Nick Hoult exclusively reports that Joe Root is poised to remain as England Test captain and oversee an overhaul of the team in the wake of their Ashes series defeat in Australia.
Business briefing: Levelling up clash
Michael Gove has clashed with the Treasury over plans to overhaul manufacturing because of concerns about the costs, in a blow to his “levelling up” agenda. He has been warned not to go ahead with a white paper meant to map out the future of the industry as this would suggest new investment that is not coming. The stand-off reflects a wider tension between Tories calling for more spending and those pushing for tax cuts.
Sausages and lentils with herb relish | This is a simple dinner that is perfect for when you are too busy to cook a masterpiece but do not want to turn to the takeaway just yet. View the recipe. For more, try our Cookbook newsletter.
Travel: Adding adventure into your trips
Do you always go back to the same place on holiday? If so, it is time to shake up the way you travel and change direction. Chris Leadbeater explains how to seek out broader horizons, overlooked places and off-season delights with 10 ways to add adventure into your holidays again.
And finally… for this morning’s downtime
‘He’s broken… filling a hole in his soul’ | Ben Affleck played his fascinatingly “dark” Batman when his life was falling apart. And now we know the toll it took on him, with the role proving terrible for his mental health. Ed Power explains how it engulfed the actor.