Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 23 December 2022

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

1. Flu warning for Christmas

Health officials said people with a cough or cold should avoid visiting their grandparents over Christmas to protect them from a surge in winter viruses. “Covid restrictions kept flu at bay in previous seasons,” the Department of Health said, “but the ending of these and plunging temperatures in recent weeks have resulted in increased socialising indoors, which is why both viruses are on the rise.” With hospital admissions for flu at the highest level for five years, “the message is: if you feel unwell, stay at home alone”, said The Times.

The future of the flu

2. Storm ‘frostbite in five minutes’

Experts said that plummeting temperatures causing problems across the US and Canada can lead to frostbite on bare skin in only five to 10 minutes. Nearly 177 million people are under weekend weather alerts as a powerful Arctic winter storm grips the country. The “snowiest part is yet to come as the perilous winter storm barrels east across the nation,” said CNN, with a developing “bomb cyclone” set to “unload heavy snow and blizzard conditions”.

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3. Charity warns of January poverty

Save the Children has warned that the UK’s poorest families are in urgent need and called on ministers to provide immediate extra financial support. A spokesperson said “many families in the UK are living in dire circumstances right now” and the charity is “concerned January will be the time financial hardship really begins to bite”. A study by the Resolution Foundation found that 31% of households in the bottom fifth of earners said they were significantly reducing the amount they spend on presents, festive food and other seasonal treats.

Will energy bills go down in 2023?

4. Panel delivers Jan 6 report

Donald Trump has been accused of a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 White House election. An 845-page report from January 6 committee claimed the-then president failed to act to stop his supporters from attacking the Capitol. The panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, held 10 hearings and obtained millions of pages of documents, as it investigated the violent insurrection, said The Telegraph, and found that “the central cause was ‘one man’… Mr Trump.”

Capitol riot: what was going on in the White House?

5. China struggles with Covid

Hospitals in China are filling up as a fresh Covid-19 wave seems to be hitting the country, said the World Health Organization. Up to one million people in the country could die from the coronavirus over the next few months, according to one of the first projections since the government lifted many of its strict zero-Covid measures. “There’s no doubt that China is in for a bad couple of months,” says James Wood, an infectious-disease modeller at the University of New South Wales.

Will China’s three winter waves of Covid have global impact?

6. Border Force join strikes

Disruption is expected at airports as passport control workers begin strikes. Hundreds of thousands of travellers arriving in the UK have been told to expect delays as Border Force staff become the latest UK workers to take action as “rises in the cost of living outpace pay”, said the BBC. The industrial action will affect passport control desks at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow airports, as well as the port of Newhaven in East Sussex. The military and civil servants have been drafted in.

Border Force strike may see airports close this Christmas

7. Probation blunder in murder case

A man was left free to kill children after “appalling” blunders by the Probation Service, reported The Telegraph. Damien Bendall, 32, was given a whole-life sentence this week for killing three children and his pregnant partner with a hammer last September, three months after receiving a suspended sentence for arson. A probation officer who assessed Bendall’s record for the sentencing judge in the arson case has been sacked for gross misconduct after miscategorising him as “medium risk” rather than “high risk”. The revelations “raise fresh questions” about the competency of Britain’s Probation Service, said the paper.

What’s causing the ‘chaos’ in the UK criminal justice system?

8. Warning over Xmas pet treats

Vets have warned that food from the Christmas dinner table should not be given to pets during the festive season to avoid ending up with a “poorly pet”. The British Veterinary Association warned that treating pets to the likes of sage and onion stuffing, mince pies or blue cheese could result in serious illness for them because many human foods are toxic for dogs and cats. “Keep all edible items, decorations and anything else a pet may mistake for a tasty treat out of their reach to help prevent avoidable emergency visits to the vet,” said a spokesman.

9. Rolex robbers drugged victims

A court has heard that thieves used drugged cigarettes to steal Rolexes straight from their victims’ wrists. Tom Allen and Seyamack Ghlae pretended to befriend their wealthy victims in order to drug them before swiping their valuable possessions. One victim was robbed near Fortnum and Mason in London on Sep 19, after the defendants asked him if he wanted to go to a party. “They offered him a rolled-up cigarette,” said Lucy McGarr, prosecuting. “He recalls suddenly becoming unsteady on his feet.” The next day, he noticed his £7,300 watch was missing.

10. Fifa investigates Salt Bae

Fifa is exploring how the celebrity chef Salt Bae gained “undue access” to the pitch after the World Cup final in Qatar. The Fifa World Cup Trophy can only be touched and held by a select group of people, including former winners and heads of state, said Fifa, but the Turkish chef and restaurateur was photographed holding and kissing the famous trophy alongside Argentina players after their win over France. He was also seen “grabbing” the star player Lionel Messi on the pitch.

Argentina abandon World Cup bus parade as millions line streets

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