Jonathan Van-Tam opens Royal Institution Christmas lecture
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The Deputy Chief Medical Officer tore his shirt off at the beginning of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in a break from his Downing Street press briefings. Jonathan Van-Tam introduced the show from the well-known podium before his wardrobe change. The professor wore a blue shirt without a tie underneath.
Mr Van-Tam said: “I’m Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England and many of you may have seen me giving public health announcements from the podium at No 10 Downing Street.
“But tonight is different.
“Tonight I’m speaking to you as a scientist and a doctor, not a Government advisor.
“Welcome to the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.”
It comes as the NHS is mounting a fresh drive to get Covid booster jabs into arms to protect against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
The NHS vaccination programme is sending around 650,000 text messages and 50,000 letters to people who have not yet received their top-up dose, encouraging them to roll up their sleeve and have a “jabby new year”.
The move comes as ministers continue to monitor the latest data with England and Wales recording a record 129,471 confirmed cases on Tuesday, while separate figures for Scotland showed another 9,360 cases.
No data was available for Northern Ireland.
Jonathan Van-Tam says 'no time to delay' over Omicron variant
The Government at Westminster has said while the early evidence suggests Omicron is less likely to cause serious illness than earlier waves it stands ready to impose new measures in England if necessary.
Currently England is alone among the home nations in ruling out additional controls before the new year, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all having put in place further controls since Christmas.
Despite rising Covid-19 case across the UK, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday that he “cannot see how restricting outdoor exercise is justified or proportionate” after Parkrun cancelled its free, 5k runs in Wales as the country’s restrictions prevent gatherings of more than 50 people.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who will update the recalled Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, has called on people in Scotland to follow the new rules, including restrictions on households mixing, as she warned cases would continue to rise.
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According to the latest figures, there are 9,546 people in hospital in England with the disease – up 38 percent from a week earlier and the highest total since the beginning of March, although still well below the peak of more than 34,000 in January.
Meanwhile research from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre found three in five Covid patients in intensive care in London at the start of last month had not been vaccinated.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said the figures underlined the importance of people getting fully vaccinated to protect themselves and to protect the health serves.
“While that does not necessarily tell us exactly what is going on in hospitals now, it tallies with what we are hearing from staff on the frontline,” he said.
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