Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 November 2021
The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am
Masks ‘most effective Covid measure’
Wearing a mask is the single most effective public health measure for avoiding Covid-19, reducing incidence by 53%, according to the first global study of its kind. A “systematic review and meta analysis” of public health and non-pharmaceutical approaches to tackling the virus found “several personal protective” measures, “including hand washing, mask wearing and physical distancing”, caused reductions in the incidence of Covid-19. In England, the legal requirement to wear a mask ended in July.
PM admits sleaze failings
Boris Johnson has admitted that he “crashed the car” in his handling of the Owen Paterson lobbying case. “On a clear road I crashed the car into a ditch”, he told Tory backbenchers at a meeting of the 1922 committee last night. Following weeks of damaging sleaze allegations, a member of the committee told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg that the prime minister “looked weak and sounded weak”, adding that his “authority is evaporating”.
QAnon Shaman jailed
The man known as the “QAnon Shaman” has been sentenced to 41 months in prison over his involvement in the Capitol Hill riot. Jacob Anthony Chansley was among the Donald Trump supporters who tried to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election in January. He became the public face of the deadly riot thanks to his unusual dress, which included horns, a bearskin headdress and US flag painted on his face. He earlier pleaded guilty to one felony count of obstruction in an official proceeding.
Cost of living crisis looms
Workers will need a pay rise of more than 7% next year just to stand still as surging inflation and looming tax rises erode their spending power, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Official data found that prices jumped 4.2% in the 12 months to October. In an impending cost of living crisis, the average family will be up to £2,000-a-year worse off in 2022, with gas prices soaring 28%, petrol costs rising 22%, food prices increasing 1.3% and alcohol costs up 2%, the IFS added.
Doubt cast on Peng Shuai email
The head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has said he is increasingly concerned for the welfare of Peng Shuai after Chinese state media published an email purportedly sent by the Chinese player. Peng has not been heard from publicly since she alleged on social media that retired vice-premier of China, Zhang Gaoli, sexually assaulted her. Steve Simon, chair of the WTA, said he had a “hard time believing” the email was written by Peng.
State of emergency in Canada
A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian western province of British Columbia after a devastating storm. Soldiers have been called in to help stranded residents and search areas hit by landslides and floods after the storm dumped a month’s worth of rain in two days across the Pacific north-west. One woman was killed in a landslide and two people are missing.
Care policy tweak condemned
Tens of thousands of England’s poorest pensioners will pay the same for their old age care as wealthier people under the government’s new cap on home and care costs. The £86,000 cap was expected to amount to a combination of all care costs, including means-tested council funding. But the government now says only private contributions will be counted. Analysts told The Guardian that the reform will leave many poorer homeowners exposed to “catastrophic costs”, including the need to sell their homes to cover long-term care.
Warning over new Covid offshoot
An offshoot of the Delta variant that is spreading in England appears to be less likely to cause symptoms than the dominant form, researchers have said. However, Christl Donnelly, professor of statistical epidemiology at Imperial College London, warned that “it is absolutely the case” that people waiting for test results to “identify that they are infected... should cut back their contacts”, as “being asymptomatic may facilitate transmission”.
Buffet firm struggles on day one
A digital payments company backed by billionaire Warren Buffett has stumbled on its first day of trading. Paytm began trading in India at 1,955 rupees ($19) per share, below the 2,150 rupees (£21.20) offer price. It was down almost 18%, selling at 1,610 rupees (£16.86), by the close of trade. The company’s founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, went to “seek the blessing of God” at the Tirupati Temple, one of India’s most famous places of worship, on the day Paytm launched its IPO.
Daily Mail editor out after criticism
The editor of the Daily Mail, Geordie Greig, has been ousted after three years in the job. The Telegraph said the move “paves the way for a merger with [the Daily Mail’s] Sunday sister title and a greater focus on digital journalism”. The Guardian reported that Greig’s departure comes after the paper became one of the “fiercest critics” of Boris Johnson’s handling of sleaze allegations, helping to force No. 10 into a U-turn over its handling of the Owen Paterson affair.