3 min read

⏳ Friday Fix: A New Variant

Morning all,

A new variant sparks concerns, refuge for one of the most recognisable faces in the world, and Black Friday shopping begins.  

Until tomorrow,

Your Fixers


Below is the audio version of today's newsletter.


As you will know, at least 27 people died while trying to cross the Channel on Wednesday, in an incident that heightened tensions between France and the UK.

Below is an incredibly helpful explainer, with so much context and background on this story.

"Look at net migration in the UK. This is the number of people arriving in the UK minus the number of people leaving. It fell by 88% last year. Then there's the number of people granted asylum by the UK - it's lower than Germany, France or Greece. But for the UK Government the focus on what's happening in the Channel is part a humanitarian concern, but it's also about showing control, and it's about a system - that in its view - isn't working." - Ros Atkins


Concerns over a new variant put  six countries in southern Africa on the UK's red travel list.

BBC News cited an expert, who described this new variant as "the worst one we've seen so far". At this point, there have been no reports of this variant across Europe, but Ireland's Minister for Health is said to be "deeply concerned," and the UK's Transport Secretary said they are "tracking down" recent arrivals.

Why? Because of how many times it has mutated, meaning it has been described as "radically different" to the original virus that emerged from Wuhan, China. That raises questions about the vaccine's efficacy with this variant.

Flights banned: At the moment, flights from the UK to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have all been suspended. According to Sky News, somewhere between 500 and 700 people were travelling from South Africa to the UK each day in recent weeks.


The 'Afghan girl' - made famous by a striking portrait on National Geographic back in 1985 - has been evacuated to Italy.

Sharbat Gulla was brought to Italy from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, after asking for help to leave.

Back in 1984 when the striking image was taken, Gulla was an orphan in a refugee camp on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to CNN, she is now in her late forties.



Model and reality TV star Zara McDermott has a new documentary on BBC iPlayer, exploring rape culture in schools.

McDermott had recently opened up about her own experiences as a victim of revenge porn, and in this latest programme talks about her own sexual assault by a schoolboy.


IKEA are renting out an apartment in Tokyo for just $0.86 per month. Described as "not palatial by any standards," the studio apartment measures just 10sqm.


Black Friday. In the UK alone, shoppers are expected to spend more than £9 billion on supposed deals. However, Which? conducted a fascinating study on last year's deals.

They found that a staggering 92% of products that had been on sale were the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday.

Watch our Belle break it all down for you below!


Ireland's annual toy show airs tonight. For anyone who is not Irish, it's like a cultural event, watched at any age. Here is one of the funniest/sweetest moments from 2003.