December 5, 2023


Unlimited Technology

Covid-19 mutation spreading faster than Wuhan virus, says expert

Some companies are employing specialist cleansing teams to regularly disinfect communal areas - RUSSELL SACH
Some companies are employing specialist cleansing teams to regularly disinfect communal areas – RUSSELL SACH

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New Covid mutation ‘helping outbreaks spread faster’

A new mutation of Covid-19 is now the most dominant strand of the virus globally and forming clusters quicker in the UK than the original virus from Wuhan, an expert has warned. Professor Nick Loman of the University of Birmingham, who is part of the Covid-19 Genomics Consortium, said the mutation, known as D614G, has an observable impact on cases in humans. While it is not thought the new form of the virus causes a greater risk of death, or lengthier hospital stays, it is helping outbreaks spread more rapidly across the world. Prof Loman also said he suspected the new mutation would not impact the process of finding a vaccine for Covid-19, particularly given its prevalence globally. So how far away is a vaccine? Here is the latest on the UK and US trials.

Meanwhile, the families and friends of some care home residents in England will be able to resume visiting their loved ones, the Government has confirmed, months after these were stopped due to the coronavirus crisis. Until now, visits were limited and dependent both on local infection rates and the individual care home. Our liveblog has the latest. And the Transport Secretary has hinted that the Government may extend mandatory face masks measures to include all “enclosed public spaces”, with the exception of pubs, cafes and restaurants. Grant Shapps said “in general the rule is wear a face covering in any enclosed space.” Here is a summary of the Government’s latest face mask advice.

PM accuses Starmer of undermining Brexit vote

Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer turned the final Prime Minister’s Questions before Parliament’s summer recess into a blame game over Russia. The Labour leader attempted multiple times to challenge the Prime Minister over the Intelligence and Security Committee report published this week, asking him why Mr Johnson sat on it for so long, instead of acting to prevent Russian interference. Mr Johnson attacked his rival, saying Labour had “parroted the line of the Kremlin” after the Salisbury poisoning, while the Government had turfed out diplomats. He also accused Sir Keir of being one of the “Islingtonian Remainers” trying to give the impression that Russian influence is responsible for Brexit. Read more of their exchange, while parliamentary sketchwriter Michael Deacon reveals how the pair denied Jeremy Corbyn the sole comfort of his departure as Labour leader – no longer being humiliated at PMQs.

Prince Philip, 99, steps out for rare public engagement

The Duke of Edinburgh has carried out a rare official public engagement, as he transfers his role as Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles to the Duchess of Cornwall. Prince Philip, who retired in 2017, was nearly 100 miles apart from his daughter-in-law Camilla, as they both carried out ceremonies to mark the occasion. Amid extreme social distancing, the Duke, 99, was at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, while the Duchess was at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. Watch him offer a cheery wave before he was thanked for his “67 years of continuous service, support and leadership” for The Rifles. Of course, his appearance comes on Prince George’s seventh birthday today. Click here to read the five rules the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge adhere to when choosing clothes for their son.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Labour pay ‘substantial damages’ | Jeremy Corbyn has publicly challenged Sir Keir Starmer’s authority over the decision by Labour to pay “substantial damages” to anti-Semitism whistleblowers who appeared on a BBC Panorama documentary. The former Labour leader said the decision to settle and apologise to seven former members of staff and the journalist John Ware was a “political” rather than “legal decision”. Ex-Labour MP Tom Harris writes how Mr Corbyn deserves to lose the whip, but warns it would plunge Labour into its worst civil war yet.

Around the world: Navy drills around disputed islands

Five Australian warships are conducting military exercises in the Philippine Sea with the American and Japanese navies, in a joint show of strength as tensions over China’s maritime ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. An Australian Joint Task Group, led by HMAS Canberra, has joined up with the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and a Japanese destroyer for a “trilateral exercise” billed as an effort to improve cooperation in keeping international waters “free and open”. See a map of the area around disputed islands where tensions are growing.

Wednesday interview

Casey Legler – ‘I should be dead. Or at the very least incarcerated’


Casey Legler - Jean-Yves Ruszniewski/ Corbis Sport
Casey Legler – Jean-Yves Ruszniewski/ Corbis Sport

At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, French-American swimmer Casey Legler broke the world record in the 50 metres freestyle in practice, only to rank 29th quickest on the day of the heats. The next day, she was dealing drugs to her fellow athletes. She tells Oliver Brown how she has undergone a remarkable reinvention from Olympian and drug addict to an award-winning author who has spent half her life clean

Read the full interview

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice

  1. More than ‘a bunch of white guys’ | Belushi, Aykroyd, and the birth of the Blues Brothers

  2. Fighting Wikipedia’s ‘liberal lies’ | How Mrs America’s son is flying the conservative flag

  3. Ageless Beauty | The only products you actually need in your 40s and 50s

Business and money briefing

Housebuilders struggle | For many years bumper dividends were the norm for shareholders in housebuilders thanks to robust demand and government support in the form of the Help to Buy scheme. Coronavirus has well and truly turned off the fountain of cash, however, and starts on new building sites are running at about a tenth of pre-Covid levels. Read how firms are struggling to ramp up construction as storm clouds gather.

Sport briefing

Jadon Sancho | Manchester United’s hopes of landing Jadon Sancho this summer have been boosted by Borussia Dortmund stepping up contingency plans for the England forward’s departure. Dortmund have this week turned their attention to signing a wide forward for the new Bundesliga season now that they have completed the capture of Jude Bellingham from Birmingham City to compete in midfield. Read more.

Tonight’s TV  

Mrs America, BBC Two, 9pm & 9.50pm | There have been some complaints about the veracity of this take on 1970s feminism but it’s hard not to get swept along when a series is this well acted and this cleverly told. Read more.

And finally… for this evening’s downtime

Lamborghini review | Nothing looks quite like a Lamborghini – and few cars can deliver such ferocious performance. With a maximum speed of 202mph, its latest rear-drive drophead Huracán is just the thing for a scintillating summer. Read on for the review.

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