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Britain says Omicron accounts for 40% of London infections******
Britain said yesterday that the Omicron variant of coronavirus was spreading at a "phenomenal rate" and accounted for about 40 percent of all infections in London so people should get an additional dose of the vaccine because double-jabbed people are vulnerable.。
Since the first cases of the Omicron variant were detected on November 27 in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed tougher restrictions and told the nation on Sunday that a "tidal wave" of Omicron was about to hit.。
Britain says that unless action is taken there could be a million people infected with Omicron, which scientists say can still infect people who are double-vaccinated, by the end of the month.。
"What we now know about Omicron is that... it's spreading at a phenomenal rate, something that we've never seen before, it's doubling every two to three days in infections," Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News.。
"That means we're facing a tidal wave of infection, we're once again in a race between the vaccine and the virus," he added.。
Johnson, who is grappling with a rebellion in his Conservative party over measures to curb the Omicron spread and an outcry over alleged Downing Street parties during last year's lockdowns, said that people should rush to get booster vaccines to protect "our freedoms and our way of life."
The novel coronavirus, which was first detected in China in late 2019, has killed 5.3 million people, wiped out trillions of dollars in economic output and turned normal life upside down for people across the world.。
Data released on Friday showed that vaccine efficacy against symptomatic infection was substantially reduced against Omicron with just two doses, but a third dose boosted protection up to over 70 percent.。
Though Javid said there had been no deaths yet confirmed in England and just 10 people were hospitalized in England with the variant, he said Omicron was probably behind around 40 percent of infections in London.。
He said that while symptoms of the variant might be milder, its swift spread meant that unless the government acted then the health service could be overwhelmed.。
"Even when a virus is mild, a small percentage of people from a very large number still can equal a high number of hospitalizations," Javid said.。
"Two doses are not enough, but three doses still provide excellent protection against symptomatic infection," he said.。
Russia, US clash at UN over Ukraine crisis as oligarchs threatened******
Russia and the United States clashed over Ukraine at the UN Security Council Monday, as London and Washington threatened to slap sanctions on wealthy Russian oligarchs if the ex-Soviet state is attacked.
French leader Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone for the second time in four days amid intense efforts by NATO allies to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
With more than 100,000 Russian troops massed on its neighbor's borders, tensions soared as US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Council that Moscow is planning to increase its force in Belarus six-fold in the coming days.
"We've seen evidence that Russia intends to expand that presence to more than 30,000 troops near the Belarus-Ukraine border, less than two hours north of Kyiv by early February," said Thomas-Greenfield.
"If Russia further invades Ukraine, none of us will be able to say we didn't see it coming, and the consequences will be horrific."
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield (right) and Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslysya speak to the media following a Security Council meeting to discuss the situation between Russia and Ukraine.
But Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, rejected the allegations and said Washington was engaging "in hysterics" by calling the Council meeting on Ukraine.
He said no Russian official had threatened to invade the former Soviet republic and that Ukrainians were being "brainwashed" by the "Russiaphobia" of the West.
And he said that the troops in Belarus were there for joint exercises.
The United States is "whipping up tensions and rhetoric and provoking escalation," Nebenzia said.
"The discussions about a threat of war is provocative in and of itself. You are almost calling for this, you want it to happen," he charged.
Russia isolated at UN
Russia has repeatedly denied it poses a threat to Ukraine, while demanding guarantees that Kyiv will not join the US-led NATO alliance and that the United States will not establish new military bases in ex-Soviet countries.
Macron and Putin exchanged their views on the situation "as well as issues related to providing Russia with long-term and legally-binding security guarantees," the Kremlin said in a statement after their call.
The French presidency did not provide details on the content of their discussion, but it came one day before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to hold fresh talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Russia sent the United States its stance on Ukraine Monday evening, just hours before the talks. A State Department spokesperson declined to divulge the details.
Russia found little support on the 15-member Council as it pushed back against allegations its troop presence on the Ukraine border was an implicit threat.
It had tried to block the meeting from taking place, but ten members voted to proceed with debate and three abstained, leaving Moscow isolated.
"This is the largest... mobilization of troops in Europe in decades," Thomas-Greenfield said.
"And as we speak, Russia is sending even more forces and arms to join them."
Ukraine's ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, called for de-escalation so talks can resume over the conflict already ongoing inside Ukraine with pro-Moscow secessionists in the eastern Donbass region.
"My president has reiterated most recently that he's ready to meet his Russian counterpart," Kyslytsya told the Council.
"If Russia has any questions to Ukraine, it is better to meet and talk, not to bring troops to the Ukrainian borders and intimidate Ukrainian people," he said.
"For Ukraine, the first priority today is to achieve a sustainable and unconditional ceasefire in Donbass."
Oligarchs under threat
Meanwhile, Britain and Washington signaled that the billionaire oligarchs around Putin would be hit with sanctions in case of an invasion.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told parliament that the government was putting through "the toughest sanctions regime against Russia we've ever had."
"Those in and around the Kremlin will have nowhere to hide," she said.
She would not name names, but on Sunday indicated that the powerful business allies of the Kremlin, many of whom have sizable business and personal assets in Britain, were in the crosshairs.
"There will be nowhere to hide for Putin's oligarchs," Truss told Sky News.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki also signaled that Washington has its eye on the same class of people for possible sanctions.
"The individuals we've identified are in or near the inner circle of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision-making," Psaki told reporters Monday.
"We have developed specific sanctions packages for both Russian elites and their family members."
The Kremlin denounced Britain's move as an "undisguised attack on business," charging that "the Anglo-Saxons are massively ramping up tensions on the European continent."
China's forex reserves rise in October******
BEIJING, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- China's foreign exchange reserves rose to 3.2176 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of October, up 17 billion U.S. dollars from a month earlier, official data showed Sunday.。
The volume went up 0.53 percent from the end of September, said the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).。
Wang Chunying, deputy director and spokesperson of the SAFE, attributed the October increase in foreign exchange reserves to the combined impact of currency translation and changes in asset prices.。
The dollar index fell slightly due to factors such as the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic and expectations for major countries' fiscal and monetary policies, said Wang, adding that the currency translation and the change in asset prices led to the rise of China's foreign exchange reserves. Enditem。