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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

World news round-up: 5 overnight developments from around the globe

🔴 Good morning! Begin your day with five key overnight stories from around the world.

By: Express Web Desk |
Updated: January 12, 2022 7:43:14 am
Photos via agencies.

Here is a round-up of the top developments around the world today.

1. Omicron may be headed for a rapid drop in US and Britain

Scientists are seeing signals that Covid-19’s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the US, at which point cases may start dropping off dramatically. The reason: The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa.

Omicron could one day be seen as a turning point in the pandemic, said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas Covid-19 Modeling Consortium, which predicts that reported cases will peak within the week. Immunity from all the new infections, along with new drugs and continued vaccination, could render the coronavirus something with which we can more easily coexist.

2. ‘Bring your own booze’ lockdown party heaps pressure on UK PM Johnson

Boris Johnson’s leadership faced its most serious threat yet on Tuesday after it emerged his private secretary invited over 100 people to a “bring your own booze” party at the British Prime Minister’s official residence during a coronavirus lockdown. Johnson, who won a landslide election victory in 2019, has faced intense scrutiny over the past month after a video emerged showing his staff laughing and joking about a different party also held in Downing Street during a 2020 Christmas lockdown.

Revelations about a series of gatherings that took place in the heart of government have been widely criticised and prompted opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer to accuse Johnson of lacking the moral authority to lead the country. The latest, if substantiated by an internal inquiry, would be the most damaging yet for Johnson’s future.

3. US announces $308 million in aid for Afghans as crisis grows

The United States on Tuesday announced $308 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, offering new aid to the country as it edges toward a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban takeover nearly five months ago.

White House national security council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement that the new aid from the US Agency for International Development will flow through independent humanitarian organisations and will be used to provide shelter, health care, winterisation assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation and hygiene services.

4. Air strike in Ethiopia’s Tigray kills at least 17, aid workers say

An air strike in the town of Mai Tsebri in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray on Monday killed at least 17 people, mostly women, and wounded dozens, two aid workers told Reuters, citing local authorities and eyewitnesses.

The United Nations said it had been unable to confirm the reports or the number of casualties due to a lack of communications in the area. It called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and full humanitarian access. Last Friday, an air strike killed 56 people and injured 30, including children, in a camp for displaced people in a different location in Tigray.

5. Germany needs greater immigration to avoid labour shortages, says minister

Germany will need increased immigration to prevent severe labour shortages from undermining productivity and endangering a successful energy transition, its economy minister said as Europe’s largest economy faces a demographic crisis.

“We have 3,00,000 job openings today and expect that to climb to a million and more,” Robert Habeck, a leader of the Greens party, told a news conference. “If we don’t close that gap, we will have real productivity problems.” The employer-friendly German Economic Institute estimates that the labour force will shrink by more than 300,000 people this year as there are more older workers retiring than younger ones entering the labour market. This gap is expected to widen to more than 650,000 in 2029, leaving an accumulated shortage of people of working age in 2030 of roughly 5 million.

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