Today so far
Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer: ‘we will see rapid increase’ in Omicron cases
The former chairman of the UK competition regulator has condemned the market for PCR tests for travellers, describing it as a “rip-off jungle”.
After the return of the requirement to take the tests on return from abroad, Lord Tyrie accused the government of once again allowing the companies offering PCR tests to manipulate the system by making them available at unrealistic prices.
“For this policy to get into a mess once might be seen as a misfortune but for it to resurface again after all the warnings over the summer would have to be described as carelessness,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “It was a scandal waiting to happen and it’s now happened and it needs very urgent action.”
Last week, the Guardian revealed that a slew of the cheapest deals on PCR tests had been removed from the government website amid concerns travellers were being misled by companies advertising the coronavirus testing service for less than £1.
Read more of Mark Sweney’s report here: Covid PCR test market a ‘rip-off jungle’, says ex-chair of competition regulator
If you are rushing to book your booster jab in England today, a note from my colleague Helen Pidd:
The NHS put out a press release last night saying that “people aged 40 and over, along with those in high-risk groups, will be able to book in for their life-saving Covid booster jab three months after their second dose as the NHS vaccine programme is extended today”.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, was tweeting about the move this morning, encouraging people to go online today to book.
Yet 40-somethings trying to book their booster have been frustrated this morning as it emerged the NHS vaccine booking service hasn’t yet got the memo. You can still only book in for an imminent third jab if your second dose was 152 days ago (five months), as per the old rules. A message on the site says: “The booking system is currently being updated.”