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UK PM Boris Johnson under fire, New Zealand to ban cigarettes, China warns against Olympic boycotts

Yahoo Finance Live reports on UK could UK Prime Minister Johnson faces resignation calls over lockdown party, New Zealand plans to lifetime ban cigarettes in the country, and China warns countries will pay a price for Olympic boycott.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: In our World View today, British health officials are warning the omicron variant could lead to 1 million new COVID infections in the country by the end of this month. Nearly 600 omicron cases have been reported across the UK so far.

The rapid spread of the variant prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose new restrictions on Wednesday, including an order to work from home, wear masks in public, and vaccine mandates to enter large events. Those new rules, though, come as Johnson faces increasing pressure over video that appears to show his staff flouted COVID restrictions by hosting a Christmas party last year while banning the public from holding big social gatherings. Johnson apologized on behalf of his staff and called for an investigation.

BORIS JOHNSON: I understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing Number 10 staff seeming to make light of lockdown measures. And I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that the people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules, Mr. Speaker, because I was also furious to see that clip.

I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that-- and that no COVID rules were broken.

AKIKO FUJITA: Over a New Zealand, lawmakers have availed a plan to ban all cigarettes from the country in one of the toughest tobacco crackdowns in the world. The proposed legislation is set to take effect in 2023. It would impose a lifetime ban on cigarettes for anybody under the age of 15 while gradually raising the smoking age until it covers the entire population. The proposed rule ultimately aims to outlaw smoking altogether in the next four years. Cigarette prices in New Zealand are already among the highest in the world one pack. Costs just over $20 US. That is only behind Australia.

And China--

[AUDIO OUT]

--for their mistaken acts. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson made those comments after Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand joined the US in deciding not to send government officials to the Winter Games. Leaders have all expressed concerns about China's repeated human-rights violations, particularly in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

At least one country, though, is refusing to follow suit. The sports minister of France-- who, by the way, hosts the next Olympic Games-- says his country will not move forward with a diplomatic boycott to protect sports from, in his words, "political interference."