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Snippets from UK: Positive Signs for India as Omicron-led Covid Wave in Britain Ebbs

Workers walk over London Bridge towards the City of London financial district during the morning rush hour, in London, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The British government asked people to return to working in offices from Monday as they ease coronavirus restrictions. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Workers walk over London Bridge towards the City of London financial district during the morning rush hour, in London, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. The British government asked people to return to working in offices from Monday as they ease coronavirus restrictions. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

From the unwillingness of UK government workers to go back to office to 10 Downing Street's secret investigation, a roundup of what's making news at this time.

Cases dip: As India looks to the UK for its pattern of dealing with Omicron, the figures would on the face of it seem encouraging. The number of daily cases has fallen to a third of a peak of 216,000 only some days back. But consider that positive cases without serious symptoms are not being reported. The number of hospitalisations is relatively high, but half remain cases of patients with Covid rather than because of it. It all points to significant new easing of restrictions in India too over the next few weeks.

Comfort zone: The UK faces an odd problem, among many such. The new government directive is to stop working from home. But those opposing that most firmly are government employees. By now people have just got used to working from home, for close to two years. Not many are in a rush to return to the daily commute. The British are usually never late getting to their office. If they don’t need to go to the office, they can’t possibly be late.

Kiss goodbye: Memories of Shilpa Shetty’s troubled appearance in Big Brother were revived this week after a court cleared her of obscenity charges after actor Richard Gere kissed her publicly in 2007. Shilpa Shetty became controversial in Britain over allegations of racism in that programme. The real-life drama in India over that kiss has raised some new concerns over rights and responsibilities within the country.

Too soon: The UK is getting international students in far faster than it had aimed for. The number hit 605,130 for 2020-21, passing the 600,000 target a decade earlier than expected. The number of students from India rose by 27 per cent for the year, while numbers from China fell 5 per cent, and from Malaysia 30 per cent. This does raise the question: which of these countries’ students are making the smarter choices?

Smelling a rat: To add to the investigation by the police, and the inquiry by civil servant Sue Gray into the parties at Downing Street—or gatherings around drinks and nibbles as Downing Street is seeking to call them—No. 10 is conducting another secret inquiry: who is leaking all this information to the media. An insider, necessarily. From No. 10 itself, or from No. 11, where Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak lives.

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first published:January 26, 2022, 22:58 IST