Covid bulletin #68 Omicron variant fears
This is the 68th of a series of bulletins produced by ISE to update members on key data and policy relating to Covid-19. This bulletin covers the period 26th November – 9th December 2021.
You can access all of the Covid-19 bulletins on ISE insights.
Latest COVID-19 data and news
Source: Government Covid-19 dashboard.
Please note – December figures in the top graph only currently include data until 03/12/21 for hospital admissions and 07/12/21 for cases and deaths, hence the large decrease shown between November and December. In addition, the average daily hospital admission rate for the most recent week in the second graph is based on data from 29/11/21 – 03/12/21.
The UK has now had almost 10.6m identified Covid-19 cases and 170k deaths (with Covid on the death certificate) in total. Hospital admissions and death rates have been fairly stable for a couple of weeks, but average daily case rates have been rising since early November.
81% of the 12+ UK population are now double vaccinated against Covid-19, with 36.4% of these having also had a third booster dose. 11.1% remain unvaccinated.
- World Health Organisation has classed a new variant of Covid-19, Omicron, as a ‘variant of concern’. Ed Feil explains why.
- Experts explain how new variants, like this, arise.
- Several new restrictions have been brought in as a result of the Omicron variant:
- Face coverings compulsory in shops and on public transport
- COVID-19 test (lateral flow or PCR) to be taken in the two days before travelling to the UK from another country
- PCR test required within two days of entering the UK and self-isolation until negative result received
- 10 South African countries added to travel ‘red list’ requiring hotel quarantine on return to UK
- Contacts of suspected Omicron cases to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status or age.
- The booster campaign is also being stepped up, with jabs to be offered to all over-18s.
- Staff absences due to Covid-19 and illnesses are the biggest barrier to children catching up on learning lost during the pandemic.
- Risk of fines if universities break competition laws by withdrawing offers for oversubscribed courses, due to the higher A-level grades awarded in the last two years.
- OfS threatens universities with sanctions if they cannot reduce dropout rates among disadvantaged students and improve graduate outcomes.
- Jim Dickinson raises concerns over universities being told to use tuition fee income to raise attainment in local schools.
- Numbers of students on campus still very low, but attainment, progression and retention have remained at normal levels.
- Michelle Donelan plans to revolutionise HE loans with the ‘Lifelong Loan Entitlement’ which will fund the equivalent of 4 years of post-18 study, including flexible module-by-module learning at any point of life.
- ‘Psychological toll’ of high student loan debt highlighted as freedom of information request reveals the largest bill recorded as £189,700.
- Audit finds Sunak’s £2bn ‘Kickstart’ pandemic jobs scheme not delivering value for money and created over 150,000 less jobs than hoped.
- Stewart Lansley discusses how economic changes affect those on lower incomes more negatively.
The number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) had been relatively stable since 2017, until a reduction was observed within the first half of this year. However, between July and September, economically inactive figures saw a sharp rise back to where they were at the start of 2021. Unemployment figures continued to fall but not as steeply as they had been.
Unemployment measures people without a job who have been actively seeking work within the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks.
Economic inactivity describes those not in the labour force that are not seeking work or able to start work in the next two weeks.
- Accenture consultancy firm, one of the UK’s largest graduate recruiters, plans to take on 3000 more tech staff by 2024, with half of the roles based outside of London – particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
- SciTech Digital Innovation Hub at Barnsley College aims to address the digital skills gap and develop the workforce of the future, by working closely with employers to tailor curriculums to meet the demand.
Student recruitment and development
- More than a 1/3 of young black people in London are unemployed, double the rate of their white peers, as Covid exacerbates inequalities.
- Prospects survey reveals the top challenges faced by young people looking for work.
- Charlie Ball summarises recent data and reports from the graduate labour market.
- Over 60% of grads willing to relocate for work with the main reasons being to earn a higher salary, access more opportunities or move abroad.
- Large number of Police Constable Degree Apprentices leaving policy force shortly after joining, unable to cope with the work pressures and violence of the front line.