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Scientists Call for Additional Restrictions on Omicron Fight in UK – Observer

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The British government should impose tighter restrictions to slow the growth of the Omicron variant and prevent further increases in hospitalizations and deaths from covid-19, British scientists say.

A study by scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicts that the new variant could cause 25,000 to 75,000 deaths in the UK over the next five months, unless stricter restrictions are adopted.

The study points to a new wave of infections with more infections and hospitalizations than was reported in January this year when the Delta variant appeared, and suggests that the Omicron variant may become the most dominant variant in England in a few days.

The UK reported 58,194 cases on Friday, the highest rate since January, although it is not known how many of them are from the Omicron variant.

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In their forecasts, the experts worked on two possible scenarios: a “more optimistic” scenario, in which Omicron might not hit the immune system so hard, and booster doses of vaccinations would be more effective, and a “more pessimistic” scenario.

The number of infections will depend on the degree of protection of the vaccine against the new variant and the associated booster doses, which remains unknown.

In the first case, 2,000 hospitalizations per day are expected, for a total of 175,000 hospitalizations and 24,700 deaths by the end of April.

If measures are taken at the beginning of the year, such as limiting hospitalizations, closing some entertainment venues, and increasing bandwidth when people gather, the wave could be controlled and the number of hospitalizations to 53,000 and deaths to 7,600 reduced.

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On the worst trajectory, scientists predict a surge in hospital admissions, double the number in January this year, to a total of 492,000 and 74,800 deaths.

Under stricter restrictions, the peak hospital admissions may be lower than the last peak of the pandemic.

The study recalls that these opportunities only apply when other measures than current ones are not being taken, such as using masks indoors, presenting digital certificates of vaccination when entering nightlife venues, and working from home whenever possible. …

“In our most optimistic scenario, the impact of Omicron in early 2022 will be mitigated through light control measures such as working from home,” said Rosanna Barnard of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, while “the most pessimistic scenario suggests that we may have to put up with tougher restrictions so that (the health service) is not overwhelmed. “

The expert acknowledged that “no one wants a new conclusion,” but extreme measures may be required if Ómicron is more infectious, and stressed that political leaders “must consider all the social consequences of measures, not just epidemiological ones.”

Boris Johnson’s government has no plans to take stricter measures, but will offer a booster dose of vaccine to citizens over 18 by the end of January.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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