UK raises Covid alert level as Omicron advances
Britain raised its Covid alert level on Sunday in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the virus, as medical authorities warned that hospitalisations are likely to rise sharply over the coming weeks.
The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland recommended an increase to alert level 4 from level 3 on its 5-point scale, which means they judge transmission of the virus to be high.
"Early evidence shows that Omicron is spreading much faster than Delta and that vaccine protection against symptomatic disease from Omicron is reduced," the medical officers said in a joint statement.
"Data on severity will become clearer over the coming weeks but hospitalisations from Omicron are already occurring and these are likely to increase rapidly."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to address the country in a televised broadcast at 2000 GMT to talk about the campaign to provide booster vaccinations.
"Both booster vaccines - Pfizer and Moderna - increase the immune response substantially and show good effectiveness although with some reduction compared to Delta," the medical officers said.
Level 5 - the maximum alert level - would mean the health service is at risk of being overwhelmed.
Sri Lanka prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday thanked Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, as well as the people of India, after a fresh consignment, containing food items and milk, reached the crisis-hit country after being flagged off from Chennai, on May 18. The latest consignment was flagged by Tamil Nadu CM Stalin. India's southern state and the neighbouring country are only separated by the Palk Strait.
The US-led Indo-Pacific strategy is a ploy to create divisions and incite confrontation in the region, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said on Sunday, adding that the plan is bound to fail. “Facts will prove that the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy is in essence a strategy to create division, to incite confrontation and to undermine peace,” Wang said.
Days after the Taliban's latest order, women presenters on Afghanistan's top news channels went on air on Sunday with their faces covered. On Saturday, many of the news anchors had reportedly defied the diktat to conceal their appearance on TV but their employers had come under pressure. The Taliban's latest order was among the slew of restrictions, mostly targeting the rights of women and girls, they imposed since seizing powers of Afghanistan last year.
Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, who will be sworn in as Australia's 31st prime minister on Monday, after his party won Saturday's federal elections, will, soon after Albanese's swearing-in, leave for Tokyo, Japan, to attend a summit of the Quad group of nations. However, Albanese will not be the only Labor leader to take oath of allegiance on the day; four other party MPs will also be sworn-in.
President Joe Biden said Sunday that recent cases of monkeypox that have been identified in Europe and the United States were something “to be concerned about.” In his first public comments on the disease, Biden added: “It is a concern in that if it were to spread it would be consequential." “They haven't told me the level of exposure yet but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” Biden said.