Here are the coronavirus morning headlines for Tuesday, November 30, as Wales' First Minister has said people need to "think carefully" about whether to meet vulnerable relatives over Christmas.
Mark Drakeford said people must "take precautions" amid concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus. Only matter of time before it is in Wales.
He told BBC Wales: "Christmas should be different this year. Christmas should be better this year. That doesn't mean people should neglect those simple things that we can do in our own lives that will still help to protect ourselves and others.
"Our vaccination team has been very successful during the pandemic. I've met with them today. They have done a remarkable job already in putting together a plan to respond to the latest advice from the JCVI. There is more work to do on it of course. We will want to move as fast as we can. If there's any advice to people in Wales, it's this: If you haven't had a vaccine, come forward and be vaccinated."
Measures to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus come into force on Tuesday with face coverings being compulsory again in England in shops and settings such as banks, post offices, hairdressers, and public transport, while all travellers returning to the UK must take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status.
Face masks have always been compulsory in Wales, and Welsh ministers are considering whether further restrictions are needed, but Mr Drakeford said there were no plans to close businesses.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan told BBC Radio Cymru's Dros Frecwast programme that ministers would discuss whether Wales will need stricter measures "over the next few days", including whether to close schools earlier for Christmas. Live updates here on Tuesday as Welsh Government gives update.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is now advising that all adults aged 18 to 39 should be offered a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in order of descending age groups, to increase their level of protection. More details here.
The measures in place are described by Number 10 as "temporary and precautionary", and will be reviewed in three weeks.
England's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told a Downing Street briefing on Monday that the booster campaign has "never been more vital than at this point in time".
Prof Van-Tam said scientists around the world agree that the Omicron variant is "of increased concern".
Meanwhile, England is the only UK nation where working from home is not encouraged.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reminded people on Monday to "work from home if possible".
The advice is the same in Northern Ireland, and working from home is encouraged under current guidance in Wales.
High school pupils should wear masks in class
That is the advice from the Welsh Government after changes to Covid guidance.
They have said that the changes "should come into effect in all settings as soon as possible". More details here.
Mr Drakeford told LBC radio that secondary school pupils would be asked to wear face coverings in classrooms, and communal areas, under changes to guidance.
"In most of Wales mask wearing in communal areas is already part of the repertoire that schools use," he said.
"We think now is the moment, with three weeks left of term, to introduce some additional safeguards to try and keep our school population safe [and] the staff they are in contact with safe".
In a statement on Monday evening, Education Minister Jeremy Miles said: "All staff and learners in our secondary schools, colleges and universities should now wear face coverings while indoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
"This is a temporary, precautionary measure that will be in place for the remaining weeks of term at which point the position will be reviewed."
Ministers are also in talks with unions and councils about the possibility of schools breaking up early for Christmas.
WHO says global risk from Omicron variant is 'very high'
The global risk from the omicron variant of coronavirus is "very high" based on early evidence, the World Health Organisation has said.
It said the variant could lead to surges with "severe consequences".
The assessment from the UN health agency, contained in a technical paper issued to member states, amounted to WHO's strongest, most explicit warning yet about the new version that was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa.
It came as a widening circle of countries around the world reported cases of the variant and moved to slam their doors in an act-now-ask-questions-later approach while scientists race to figure out just how dangerous the mutant version might be.
Japan announced it is barring entry to all foreign visitors, joining Israel in doing so, while Morocco banned all incoming flights.
Other countries, including the US and members of the European Union , have moved to prohibit travellers arriving from southern Africa. Poland is the latest to take action, suspending flights to seven southern African countries where the new variant was first detected.
WHO said there are "considerable uncertainties" about the omicron variant.
But it said preliminary evidence raises the possibility that the variant has mutations that could help it both evade an immune-system response and boost its ability to spread from one person to another.
"Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of Covid-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors, including where surges may take place," it added.
"The overall global risk ... is assessed as very high."
The WHO stressed that while scientists are hunting evidence to better understand this variant, countries should accelerate vaccinations as quickly as possible.
Covid infections in fully vaccinated 'more severe in the immunocompromised'
Coronavirus infections in fully-vaccinated people are rare but are more common and severe in people with weaker immune systems, a new study has suggested.
Researchers analysed healthcare records and found that only 0.08% of people in their fully-vaccinated pool experienced a breakthrough infection between December 10, 2020 and July 8, 2021.
They also found that while immunocompromised individuals represented 18% of those studied, they accounted for more than 38% of infections, nearly 60% of all hospital admissions, and 100% of deaths.
According to the study, the proportion of people with breakthrough infections was three times higher among immunocompromised individuals (0.18%) than among the reference group of non-immunocompromised people (0.06%).
Manuela Di Fusco, lead author from the Pfizer Health economics and outcomes research team, said: "The results supplement other real-world studies and support the introduction of a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to increase protection among the immunocompromised individuals.
"Several countries are currently experiencing a resurgence of Sars-CoV-2 infections despite the rollout of mass vaccination programmes.
"While Covid-19 mRNA vaccines help protect people from getting infected and severely ill, the risk of breakthrough infections in fully-vaccinated people is not completely eliminated."
Covid inquiry must examine 'mishandling' of NHS 111 service
The public inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic should examine the "mishandling" of the NHS 111 service in England, bereaved families have said.
The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said the role of the telephone advice service in the early stages of the crisis was to "alleviate the burden on the NHS", with "horrific" consequences.
And despite an extra 700 call handlers being added, the service was quickly "swamped" as the first wave hit and operators were making life or death decisions with just 10 weeks training, it argued.
Around a fifth of the group's then 1,800 members (more than 350 people) at the end of the first wave believed that the 111 service had "failed to recognise how seriously ill their relatives were and direct them to appropriate care".
It is one of several critical issues families and more than a dozen expert groups believe the promised inquiry must cover when it starts next year.
The groups have published a report, Learn Lessons, Save Lives, saying they had not been consulted by Downing Street on the scope of the probe.
Other key areas they want the inquiry to examine include:
13 Omicron cases identified in Portuguese football team
Thirteen cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant have been identified among team members of a professional football club, Portuguese health authorities said.
The Ricardo Jorge National Health Institute said that one of those who tested positive is a player from the Lisbon-based Belenenses club who had recently travelled to South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first identified.
The others, however, had not travelled to South Africa, indicating that this may be one of the very first cases of local transmission of the virus outside of southern Africa.
Those who have been in contact with the positive cases have been ordered to isolate, regardless of their vaccination status or their exposure to possible contagion, and will be regularly tested for Covid-19, the institute said.
Portugal also found two positive coronavirus cases when it screened 218 passengers who arrived in a flight to Lisbon from the capital of Mozambique on Saturday.
One of the cases was the Delta variant and the other one could not be established, authorities said.
White House Christmas decorations honour Covid frontline workers
The White House has revealed that its theme this holiday season is ‘Gifts from the Heart’ and will honour frontline workers who dedicated themselves to helping others during the coronavirus pandemic.
Each room tells a story of gifts from the heart, the first lady explained Monday. The east wing is dedicated to frontline workers, who are represented by shooting stars because they "brought light to our lives during the darkest days of the pandemic".
The first lady, a longtime teacher, invited second graders from Maryland to the White House on Monday afternoon to help her unveil decorations.
The decorations are said to be inspired by people the Bidens met while traveling around the country during their first year as the first family.
Nurses, doctors, teachers, grocery store workers and others are among those recognized in this year’s decor, which transformed the White House into a gigantic, 350-pound gingerbread village.
The Gingerbread White House also features a school, police and fire departments, gas stations, a hospital, post office, grocery store and a warehouse to honor essential workers who remained on the job during the height of the pandemic.
New variant not stopping New Zealand re-opening plans
The emergence of the Omicron variant has not changed New Zealand's plans to ease restrictions in Auckland and move the nation into a new, more open phase of its pandemic response, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Bars, restaurants and gyms in Auckland can reopen from late Thursday, ending a coronavirus lockdown that began in August.
Around the country, a new "traffic light" system will bring an end to lockdowns but people will need to be fully vaccinated in order to guarantee participation in anything from getting a haircut to watching a concert.
On Sunday, New Zealand restricted travel from nine southern African countries in response to the Omicron threat. Ms Ardern said she did not anticipate any further restrictions.
She said as the new variant is studied more, New Zealand will continue doing fundamental things such as contact tracing, isolating infectious people and requiring mask use in some settings.
Ms Ardern said Auckland and some other parts of the North Island would enter the new traffic light system under a red light, due to outbreaks or lower vaccination rates. Other parts of the country would enter under an orange light.
She said the past few months had been perhaps the hardest the country had faced since the pandemic began, but the sacrifices of many had helped stabilise an Auckland outbreak while vaccination rates improved.
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