Summary: The focus this morning is on the rapid spread of omicron almost everywhere except New Zealand, so far. Fresh lockdowns were imposed in the Netherlands and Ireland overnight to stop the spread of omicron, while London declared a hospital emergency as British cases jumped by 10,000 in a day to a record 25,000. So far, only 13 omicron cases have been found in our MIQ and it is yet to spread in the community.

Omicron restrictions spread  The Netherlands imposed a lockdown to control omicron overnight, shutting all non-essential shops, bars and restaurants until mid-January. Germany banned travellers from the UK, where case numbers jumped to more than 25,000 on Saturday from 15,000 the day earlier. Ireland imposed an 8pm curfew for pubs, restaurants and live events. (Reuters)

Australia’s omicron growth  New South Wales recorded a record 2,482 cases on Sunday, including 282 omicron cases. The state had only just removed mask mandates for many indoor locations and reduced venue density limits. There are now growing calls to reimpose restrictions. (The Guardian)

Omicron in China – China reported two new omicron cases in the central Chinese city of Changsha from arrivals into the country. There are particular fears about omicron in China because 94% of the population is vaccinated with Chinese-made vaccines, which are seen as much less effective against omicron. Rising job losses and an economic slowdown are being reported as the government continues to pursue a strict lockdown and elimination policy. (Straits Times)

Johnson in trouble – Boris Johnson’s Brexit minister resigned after Britain’s governing Conservative party lost a safe seat in a shock byelection result over the weekend. The loss exposed deep divisions on the Tory backbench that are seen putting Johnson’s leadership at risk. (BBC

Back near its lows – The NZ dollar opened this morning at 67.4 US cents, down 0.7% from Friday and back near its one-year lows as further talk about higher US interest rates next year bolstered the greenback. Weaker business confidence figures on Friday in NZ didn’t help. US stocks fell 1% on Saturday morning as the spotlight moved again to the outlook for higher interest rates.

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