Friday evening UK news briefing: 'Nu' Covid variant found in Europe

·7 min read
Your evening briefing from The Telegraph
Your evening briefing from The Telegraph

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Migrant tragedy | An Iraqi-Kurdish woman who lost contact with her husband in the middle of the sea is the first confirmed victim of the Channel migrant tragedy, the Telegraph has learned. The news on victim Baran Nouri Dargalayi, pictured here, comes after it emerged another migrant feared to have died gave a final message to his family, in a call which said: "Just pray for us." Emmanuel Macron dismissed Boris Johnson as "not serious" after the Prime Minister sent a letter, publicly relayed online, to the French president calling on him to take back Channel migrants. Mr Macron spoke hours after France disinvited Home Secretary Priti Patel from a meeting on Sunday in Calais with European ministers. Mr Johnson said he does not "regret" publishing his letter. Tom Harris says there's nothing wrong with Mr Johnson's letter.

The big story: Europe's first case of new Covid variant

Some of us were beginning to whisper that it felt like things were returning to normal.

Yet today Europe has its first case of a new variant of coronavirus that Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons has become a "huge international concern".

Belgium has identified a case of the 'nu' Covid variant, first identified in southern Africa, with laboratories in the country increasing their vigilance to catch the potentially more transmissible strain.

As a result, European Union states have agreed to suspend temporarily travel to southern Africa.

Mr Javid said there are no UK cases of the new coronavirus variant, found in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel, but that the Government is concerned it could "pose a substantial risk to public health". Our liveblog is tracking cases.

Of all the variants so far, B.1.1.529 is causing the most alarm, but why?

Since delta, there have been eight other variants named sequentially after letters of the Greek alphabet by the organisation, but none have triggered this much worry.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has warned that the public need to be ready for a change in Covid restrictions.

Sarah Knapton details why the 'nu' variant is the most concerning so far. Joe Pinkstone examines the other Covid mutations that have occurred.

Global markets hammered

The new variant has wreaked havoc on global markets, with more than £60bn wiped off the FTSE100 amid fears the mutation is more transmissible and could even evade vaccines.

Traders were scrambling to cut their bets on a Bank of England rate rise next month as fears of a new coronavirus variant rocked global stock markets.

US oil prices slumped 10pc to just above $70 a barrel, while benchmark Brent crude dropped more than 9pc to below $75.

Our liveblog will follow the changes, while Ben Marlow has called on ministers to hold their nerve as markets are spooked.

Ironically, this comes as fresh analysis today suggested Britain’s economy is set to grow more quickly than China's for the first time since the death of Mao Zedong. Read on for details.

International travel fears

Of course, this has had wide implications on travel, with South Africa and neighbouring nations placed on a travel red list from noon today.

The reintroduction of the red list comes just 25 days after the UK removed all countries from the hotel quarantine category.

Here is everything you need to know about how the travel changes will affect your next holiday and Nick Trend warns that this new variant has the potential to grind international travel to a halt once again.

Comment and analysis

Around the world: 'Go westwards' says Belarus' leader

Belarus' president Alexander Lukashenko has promised food and warm clothing to migrants who opt to stay at the border between the ex-Soviet nation and Poland and won't return to their homeland. Lukashenko made the pledge during a visit to a facility that accommodates migrants at the border. "My task is to help you, people in trouble," Lukashenko said, addressing thousands of migrants during a visit to a facility accommodating migrants at the Bruzgi warehouse. See images here.

Friday interview

'Right-wingers have much more of a sense of humour than the Left'

Josh Berry - Clara Molden for The Telegraph
Josh Berry - Clara Molden for The Telegraph

With his routines involving Rafe, the cocky No10 adviser, comedian Josh Berry has made fans – and enemies – across the political spectrum

Read the full interview

Sport briefing: Eddie Jones and his World Cup regrets

Eddie Jones has revealed how he still regrets how he coached England’s World Cup final against South Africa in 2019, admitting "my mistakes could have cost us the trophy". Read his latest exclusive book extract. Austin Healey has written how he thinks Harlequins can win the Premiership again — but warns they are not the only contenders in south-west London. In golf, Lee Westwood has taken himself out of the reckoning to be Europe's next Ryder Cup captain, deciding to continue concentrating on his playing career. Read who is in the running.

Editor's choice

  1. The Midults | 'How can I tell my overweight friend that she's slowly killing herself?'

  2. Elle Macpherson | 'I was sugar addicted and sleep deprived and it showed'

  3. Flaky origin | The tangled history of the humble croissant – and how to eat it properly

Business briefing: 'Napoleon of media' gives shake-up

Eric Zemmour's challenge for the French presidency has gained momentum regardless of his comments comparing young migrants to "thieves, killers and rapists". Zemmour has yet to formally declare his candidacy, which remains threatened with a one-year prison sentence and €45,000 (£38,000) fine if he is convicted. The 63-year-old denies the charges. While France is gripped by the case, for Vincent Bollore, the billionaire industrialist who controls the media giant Vivendi, the novice politician has already delivered on his promise. Zemmour rose to prominence on CNews, the rolling news channel that was overhauled by Bollore into a doppelganger of Fox News. Read how the "Napoleon of media" is plotting a revolution to shake the French establishment.

Tonight starts now

The Bolds, review | Letting Julian Clary loose in the world of children's stories feels like a high-risk strategy – so alert are his antennae to potential innuendo, the comedian could make even a picnic in the sunshine sound somehow risqué. Yet he has had huge success with his best-selling series The Bolds, about a group of hyenas living in disguise as humans in the Teddington, west London, and which combine subtle messages about assimilation and identity with lashings of rambunctious child-friendly comedy. He has now adapted the first book in the series for the Unicorn Theatre's Christmas show. Here is the four-star review.

Three things for you

And for this evening's downtime....

'Maggie didn't quite die - her spirit is very much alive' | With months to live, Lily Jencks' mother Maggie devoted herself to a charity project that continues to help thousands battling cancer today. Jessamy Calkin learns how her diagnosis led to inspiration.

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