Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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Wednesday briefing: ‘Plan B’ to protect NHS from winter shock |

Top story: Masks and vaccine passes may return

Greetings from me, Warren Murray, on this first Wednesday of the week.

Between 2,000 and 7,000 people a day could be hospitalized with Covid in England next month, unless the government implements a “basket of measures” as soon as possible, government scientific advisers have warned. Boris Johnson has confirmed that Covid passports, the return of mandatory masking and advice to work from home are only the government’s “Plan B” if the NHS risks being overwhelmed.

Models in the Sage Committee expect cases to rise in the coming months, after almost all restrictions were lifted this summer. Although 81% of British adults are double-blind, almost 6 million are unvaccinated and vulnerable to the highly transmissible Delta variant, now that most Covid restrictions have been lifted. However, if adopted early enough, even light touch measures can be sufficient to keep infections flat and prevent a harmful new wave of hospitalizations, Sage experts say.

The recommendations were made public when health secretary Sajid Javid presented the government’s autumn and winter Covid plan. He said “Plan A” included pushing forward with booster jabs for people over 50 and clinically vulnerable people, extending vaccination to 12- to 15-year-olds and continuing to advise the public to meet outdoors where possible and wear masks at closed intervals.

Newsom safe – California Governor Gavin Newsom appears to have won a recall election. While the race was convened by the Associated Press in the last few hours, the number of votes is not yet final and election officials have 30 days to count all the ballots.

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California. Photo: Leah Millis / Reuters

Newsom, a Democratic governor in a Democratic voting state, found himself struggling to retain his post after a Republican-led recall got steam in the midst of the worst of the pandemic, driven by frustrations over school and corporate closures. His most popular challenger was right-wing radio host Larry Elder.

Financing Threat to Uprising Tories – The whips of the government are accused of threatening to withhold funding from rebel-conservative MPs if they do not support the government in key votes – raising questions about whether district funding is allocated fairly. Some backbenchers have also argued that future rebels affected by a forthcoming parliamentary border crossing were warned that they might not automatically be elected elsewhere; while others may lose party funds to retain their marginal seats. Caroline Slocock of the Civil Exchange think tank said it was “shocking if the whip of government promises to hand out public money or deny it to their MPs to buy votes. Public funds should be allocated according to clear criteria based on needs with due process.”

Collection in the middle of the week

> Boris Johnson has been condemned for proposing that Britain could become “Saudi Arabia’s” criminal policy under Priti Patel, the home secretary. Saudi Arabia beheads people, and being gay can attract the death penalty.

> Only 13 of the top 100 UK listed employers have revealed their ethnic pay gaps, prompting new calls on the government to make reporting racial pay gaps mandatory.

> Even loyal defenders of traditional whaling in the Faroe Islands have condemned the excessive killing of nearly 1,500 dolphins on Sunday. The annual hunt known as the “Grind” was already controversial, but the Sea Shepherd group has called it “the largest single killing of dolphins or humpback whales in the history of the islands” and followers of the tradition rejected it.

> The oldest US general took steps to prevent Donald Trump from “going to bad luck” and launching a nuclear war or an attack on China, according to excerpts from an eagerly awaited new book by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

> A false generational war over the climate crisis has distorted public thinking and political strategy, when in fact older generations are just as worried as younger people, according to new research. But the younger generations are more likely to say that it is useless to change their behavior because “it will not make a difference anyway”, King’s College London and New Scientist magazine found.

‘I have nothing to lose’ – Afghan women around the world have taken to social media wearing traditionally colorful clothing using the hashtag #DoNotTouchMyClothes. The protest is in response to a “demonstration” held by the Taliban at Kabul University in which about 300 women appeared in all-black clothing covering their faces, hands and feet — the kind of dress never seen before in all of Afghanistan.

Sara Wahedi, Peymana Assad and Sana Safi, who posted pictures of themselves in colorful traditional Afghan clothing on social media.
Sara Wahedi, Peymana Assad and Sana Safi, who posted pictures of themselves in colorful traditional Afghan clothing on social media. Photo: Twitter

The Taliban have announced that women will not have access to senior government positions and that schools and universities must be gender-segregated. Although the Taliban declare protests prohibited without their approval, women in Kabul have promised to continue their demonstrations. Samira, a student at Kabul University, said: “I have nothing to lose … Even if I risk my life, even if they kill me, it’s better than being silent.” It happens when the Taliban-installed governor of Helmand province asks the West to return to Afghanistan, but with aid money instead of weapons. He is photographed for our report with an assault rifle lying on his desk.

Exterior office – A Japanese house builder tackles the work from home by marketing a small office building that is 91 cm wide and 1.8 meters long. The so-called Hanare Zen is equipped with sockets, a table-type table and very little else. It can be constructed next to houses in two days.

The Hanare Zen office building manufactured by the Japanese developer KI Star Real Estate
The Hanare Zen office building manufactured by the Japanese developer KI Star Real Estate. Photo: KI Star Real Estate

Intended customers are those who struggle to work in cramped homes during the pandemic. In Kawasaki, south of Tokyo, the Tokyu Railway Company has converted old train carriages and ticket kiosks into common office space.

Today in the Focus podcast: Who pays for social care repairs?

The government’s plan to rectify the ailing social care system went into effect this week. Who wants the most benefit – and who takes the bill?

Today in focus

Who pays for the repair of social care?

Lunch at breakfast time: Protein builds muscular profits

Protein has gone from a niche bodybuilding supplement to a mainstream obsession – and is now being added to a wide variety of foods and beverages. What led to the sudden growth of this multimillion-dollar industry?

Woman eating protein bar
Sales of protein bars have picked up speed. Photo: urbazon / Getty Images


Jesse Lingard’s late mistake gave Young Boys a 2-1 victory in the Champions League over Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring in Bern. At Stamford Bridge, Romelu Lukaku took his head home in the second half to get Chelsea past an awkward Zenit Petersburg 1-0, while Robert Lewandowski scored twice for Bayern Munich as the German side eased to a 3-0 victory and gave Barcelona a reality check at Camp Nou. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has described Emma Raducanu as “the talent of the century” and admitted he was overwhelmed by the 18-year-old’s sporting reaction to winning the US Open.

Track and field history was made in Zagreb on Tuesday night when Francine Niyonsaba became the first athlete to identify herself as a difference in gender development (DSD), officially breaking a world record. A miserable 24 hours for British athletics continued as CJ Ujah’s B test confirmed his positive drug test at the Tokyo Olympics. The Rugby Football Union has reaffirmed its intention to host the 2031 World Cup as part of a long-term vision that is also designed to ensure that England are consistently in the top two of the rankings. And Carissa Moore got her fifth world championship and Gabriel Medina his third at the World Surf League final in California, where the sight of an eight-foot shark delayed the competition.


Asian equities have fallen as weak Chinese economic data reinforced concerns about slowing growth locally and globally. Data from China show that companies are struggling with the impact of lockdowns after Covid-19 outbreaks, bottlenecks in supplies and high raw material costs. Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.84%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.57% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.45%. Just under one-tenth of respondents to the Bank of America’s monthly fund manager survey expect a stronger global economy in the coming months. The FTSE looks to open fairly flat, while the pound is worth $ 1,380 and € 1,168 at the time of writing.

The papers

IN Guardian we lead today with “Act as soon as possible to meet up to 7,000 a day at the hospital,” researchers told the PM “. That Mirror says “Plan the worst” compared to the government’s “Plan B,” which involves multiple lockdowns and vaccine passes. “Surprise – it’s back to panic stations!” is Mail’s assessment but the Express may be dependent on a booster shot: “Mr Sensible! We reserve the right to tighten the rules ”.

Guardian front page, September 15, 2021
Guardian front page, September 15, 2021. Photo: Guardian

That I has “PM’s plan B to stop new lockdown”. “A Covid winter warning” – that’s it Metro who, like others, wears a cover photo of Emma Raducanu doing a smash at the Met Gala in New York. “Ghost of winter closure” says Telegraph if the Met Gala image is of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a statement outfit.

That Gange focuses on the Sage Council: “Go hard, go early to curb the winter crisis,” Johnson said. It also covers the ban on the Chinese ambassador from parliament. And Financial Times leads with “Johnson forced to delay Brexit border control of EU goods” – who would have predicted such a thing?

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