Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 3 December 2022

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Strep A surge linked to Covid rules

A microbiologist said that less mixing between children during the pandemic could have caused a drop in immunity to infections such as Strep A. After six children died in the UK amid a rise in cases of the bacterial infection, Dr Simon Clarke, from the University of Reading, said “it strikes me that as we are seeing with flu at the moment, lack of mixing in kids may have caused a drop in population-wide immunity that could increase transmission, particularly in school age children”.

2. Tory MP investigated for rape

The Conservative party is under pressure to suspend an MP who it is investigating over allegations of rape. None of the alleged victims have made a formal complaint, said The Guardian, but some Conservative MPs have reported the accusations to the police and the party. At least six Tory MPs have had the whip withdrawn or quit politics in the past 18 months over allegations of misconduct, noted The Guardian, and one backbencher is currently under orders to stay away from parliament after being arrested on suspicion of serious sexual offences including rape.

3. WHO says 90% have Covid resistance

Around 90% of the world population now has some resistance to Covid-19, said the World Health Organization. “We are much closer to being able to say that the emergency phase of the pandemic is over – but we’re not there yet,” said the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. However, he warned that “gaps in surveillance, testing, sequencing and vaccination are continuing to create the perfect conditions for a new variant of concern”. Meanwhile, said the Food Standards Agency, the virus that causes Covid-19 can live on some ready-to-eat groceries for days. It said that raspberries and broccoli are particularly vulnerable.

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4. Putin ‘may abuse peace talks’

Vladimir Putin could exploit peace talks with Russian soldiers in Ukraine to restock his armies before launching another attack, claimed the foreign secretary. Speaking to The Telegraph, James Cleverly said those supporting Ukraine had to be “very, very careful” when approaching the topic of peace talks, warning that the Russian president was not acting in “good faith”. Earlier this week, Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron had sounded a more “upbeat” note on the prospect of negotations, said the paper.

5. Indonesia to pass draconian new laws

Indonesia is set to pass a new law outlawing sex outside of marriage, even among tourists. The proposed legislation that also carries punishments for abortion, “black magic”, insulting the president and cohabitation before marriage, is expected to be passed by the Indonesian parliament within weeks. The draconian new criminal will carry a punishment of up to a year in prison. “We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” said Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, Indonesia’s deputy justice minister.

6. Hancock denials are ‘pathetic’

Matt Hancock has been branded “pathetic” after he blamed infected staff for bringing the Covid virus into care homes. In his diary of the pandemic, serialised in the Daily Mail, the former health secretary accused care home bosses of “unscrupulously” using workers infected with the virus and claimed that the then chief executive of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens was “determined” to ensure that elderly patients who did not need urgent treatment were discharged to care homes. The Mirror described Hancock’s claims as “pathetic” and “shameless”.

7. Trump supports Capitol rioters

Donald Trump has expressed support for the rioters behind the 2021 attack on the US Capitol. In a video played during a fundraiser that was hosted by the Patriot Freedom Project, a group that assists families of those charged in the riot, the former president said: “People have been treated unconstitutionally in my opinion and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.” He also complained that the US was “going communist”, noted CNN.

8. Javid announcement ‘part of Tory decay’

Sajid Javid announced yesterday that he will stand down as an MP at the next general election. The former chancellor and health secretary said he had made the decision “after much reflection”. The announcement from the MP for the Worcestershire seat of Bromsgrove comes after 11 other Tory MPs said they would step down at the next election, so “it will inevitably be seen as part of a bigger narrative of Tory decay as the party trails behind Labour in the polls”, wrote Katy Balls, deputy political editor of The Spectator.

9. Poll finds regrets over Brexit

“Brexit regrets” are growing, said the inews site, after 47% called for closer ties with the European Union and one in seven said they would vote to remain in the European Union if they had the chance again. However, found the survey, there is no majority for the UK to rejoin the EU, with voters “divided 45-41 on rejoin vs stay out”. The researchers also found that just 15% of Leave voters believe Brexit has had a positive impact on migration to Britain, with 40% disagreeing.

10. Snow forecast as temperatures fall

The UK’s first batch of snow of the winter is set to sweep across Britain in the coming days, according to forecasters. The weather is set to turn colder across the UK from this weekend with temperatures plummeting to -6°C. Over the weekend, temperatures will start to sink, with a brisk easterly wind likely to make it feel even colder. However, the Met Office said it is currently not expecting snow to fall during the second half of December, dashing hopes of a white Christmas.

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