Covid live: Omicron is ‘lose-lose situation’, says UK expert; EU to agree on 9-month

The UK prime minister’s now director of communications addressed staff and handed out awards at a party in Downing Street last Christmas that is now under investigation, it has been reported.

Jack Doyle, who was then deputy director of communications at No 10, addressed up to 50 people at the gathering on 18 December 2020, ITV News reported.

Doyle spoke to the press office to thank them for their work, as he did every week, and presented some awards to mark the team’s efforts, it has been claimed.

Political commentators have said Doyle’s presence at the party is significant because as director of communications he would have been behind the government’s confused messaging since the revelations of the party surfaced in the Daily Mirror.

Ministers have repeatedly told reporters they did not know what happened or if a party took place – but were sure no rules were broken.

Read more of Jamie Grierson’s report here: Boris Johnson’s senior aide ‘gave awards at No 10 Christmas party’

In the US, two Democratic senators have resisted Joe Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large businesses, illustrating problems the US president faces even within a faction of his own party, despite having the support of scientists and public health experts.

The West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, who co-sponsored the bill, and Montana’s Senator Jon Tester crossed Democratic party lines to vote yes and join 50 Republicans in their political opposition to the public health policy.

The bill is seen as a largely symbolic gesture, since it would also need to pass the Democratic-led House and would probably be vetoed by Biden. The mandate was already put on hold by a federal appeals court, and the future of the mandates will likely be decided by courts, not lawmakers.

But the vote showed the significant political problems Biden has faced in carrying out his public health policies to combat the pandemic. He has encountered virtually implacable Republican opposition – now joined by rebel Democrat senators – that has ranged from ideological concerns over how far government power can be exercised to fringe conspiracy theories and quack science.

Manchin, who is vaccinated and boosted, said the rule represents federal overreach, which is why he co-sponsored the bill. West Virginia, which has the third-highest rate of deaths from Covid in the country, and Montana, where some health systems instituted crisis standards of care, have suffered devastating surges throughout the pandemic.

Read more of Melody Schreiber’s report: Biden faces vaccine mandate pushback from own party despite support of scientists

Israel to extend travel ban and quarantine rules for at least 10 more days

Read More: Covid live: Omicron is ‘lose-lose situation’, says UK expert; EU to agree on 9-month

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