What the papers say: Friday's front pages

Omicron, boosters and a suspected murder-suicide in Co Donegal dominate the headlines for Christmas Eve.
What the papers say: Friday's front pages

Press Association

An approaching wave of Covid-19 infections brought on by the new Omicron variant is covered across much of the national newspapers on Friday, but with a sprinkling of Christmas cheer in recognition of our second festive season celebrated under restrictions.

The Irish Times leads with Government preparations in anticipation of the impact of the newest wave of infections, with record daily case numbers expected over the coming days.

The Irish Examiner, meanwhile, looks to the rollout of the booster vaccines after Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed on Thursday that almost half of the country's adult population have now received the additional dose.

Turning its gaze from Covid, The Echo instead goes with Christmas fundraising. The paper's two lead stories cover the efforts of students in Cork in raising money for the elderly, alongside a piece on the Cork Penny Diners who insist "nobody will go hungry" in the city this Christmas.

Also leading with the vaccine programme, The Irish Daily Mail reports Ireland is on track to administer over two million booster jabs by Christmas Day.

The Belfast Telegraph's front page covers the "grave concerns" of Kevin Lunney and his fellow Quinn Industrial Holdings directors over a documentary on the "rise and fall of Seán Quinn".

Finally, The Irish Daily Star dedicates much of its front page to the suspected murder-suicide in Co Donegal after the bodies of two men were found at a house in Letterkenny on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the UK national papers are running with more new Omicron findings amid record cases and a quietening of lockdown calls.

The Guardian leads with a plea for caution from the UK's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) despite the results. Although the UK Health Security Agency study found the risk of hospital admission is up to 70 per cent less with Omicron than Delta, Sage warned a 90 per cent drop in severity may be needed for the wave to stop short of the UK’s previous hospitalisation peak.

The Daily Telegraph adds to its report of the same study with comments from insiders that it is “increasingly unlikely” new rules will be introduced before New Year’s Eve.  The i also highlights the optimistic findings, with the paper saying it eases the “threat” of restrictions in England after Christmas.

But the Financial Times, also leading with the new study, says British prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet is “deadlocked” over the question of post-Christmas curbs.

As the country also battles with worker shortages due to isolation requirements, The Independent features new figures revealing NHS staff absences have risen by 50 per cent in a week as hospitalisations rose.

The Daily Mail has a very royal-focused front page on Christmas Eve, running with the Sussexes’ new family photo and a preview of Britain's Queen Elizabeth's Christmas Day message.

The Daily Mirror follows a similar royal theme, but focusing instead on the queen's first Christmas since the death of her husband, Prince Philip.

And the Daily Star says Nasa is being urged “to help astronauts have more sex in space”.

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