- Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

UK Justice Sec Raab 'Not Convinced' of 'Strait-Jacket' Vaccine Mandates

© REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLSBritain's Justice Secretary Raab arrives at the BBC in London
Britain's Justice Secretary Raab arrives at the BBC in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
The Omicron coronavirus variant, now spreading in the UK, is so far known to spread much more rapidly than earlier strains — but also to cause only mild illness. The US and some European countries have already ordered vaccine mandates or selective lockdowns on the un-jabbed.
The British justice secretary has downplayed the prospect of mandatory vaccination in response to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Sky News' Trevor Phillips confronted Dominic Raab on Sunday morning with a statistic that 90 percent of people in hospital with COVID-19 were unvaccinated, demanding coercive measures against the unvaccinated as some European countries have taken.
"Wouldn't it make sense, if you want to protect the NHS, to do something about that?" Phillips asked. "Other countries are now moving towards mandatory vaccines. Shouldn't we be making sure that people who basically are endangering others suffer some consequences before they take up that 90 percent of beds?"
In fact, the latest government data shows that roughly half of those admitted to hospital via Accident and Emergency with COVID-19 received their second dose less than 14 days beforehand. And less than 7,400 of the 132,000 hospital beds in the National Health Service are currently taken by patients who have tested positive for the virus, while just 895 of some 5,900 critical care beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.

Raab said he was "not convinced that wholesale, straight-jacket, mandatory vaccinations" would be effective — with the exception of Health Secretary Sajid Javid's 'no jab, no job' order to elderly care workers.

If the justice secretary is "on-message" with Downing Street, his comments would indicate the government has no plans to force citizens to get jabbed against COVID-19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week ordered the return of mandatory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport, along with increased restrictions on international travel, but has not yet re-imposed full lockdown measures in response to the arrival of the Omicron variant in the UK.
Football ball  - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2021
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Raab also told Britons there was no need to cancel their Christmas parties — but said his own ministry would not be throwing a department-wide bash this year.

"The government wants people to be able to enjoy Christmas this year", he said. "That means people should feel free to go and enjoy those celebrations, and every employer will think about the right way to do it".

Meanwhile, a South African health expert reassured the BBC's Andrew Marr that the Omicron variant, now dominant in his country, caused only "mild" illness and that less than one percent of people who have recovered from COVID-19 would be re-infected.
Africa Health Research Institute Director Professor Willem Hanekom said data suggested "the disease may occur more in younger people and mostly younger people who are unvaccinated", although "overall so far the disease has appeared to be milder", while urging caution.
Hanekom also said scientists would know within a week if existing vaccines were effective against the new strain.
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