Boris Johnson says Omicron to bring 'tidal wave' of cases
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At least one patient has died with Omicron and estimated infections in the UK hit on Monday hit 200,000, modelling suggests. Daily infections are set to reach a record one million or more by the start of next week – with cases doubling every two to three days.
Medical advisers have called for the return of two-metre social distancing indoors with mandatory face masks in pubs and restaurants.
They also warn the Government’s reliance on vaccines will leave millions at risk.
Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine appear to have given 70 percent protection against Omicron hospitalisation in South Africa in recent week – and research is ongoing.
In a mammoth booster vaccine roll-out, all over 18-year-olds in the UK have been asked to get their booster jab by the end of December – by booking online or going to a walk-in centre.
The Prime Minister has refused to rule out a Christmas lockdown if the Government’s booster programme does not stop the Omicron surge.
Sky News’s Beth Rigby asked: “Last year, you cancelled Christmas on December 19. Can you promise people today that will not happen again before Christmas and there will be no further restrictions?”
Boris Johnson replied: “What I can definitely tell you, Beth, is that the best thing we can do to protect ourselves, protect our country, and ensure that we have as normal a Christmas as possible is to get boosted now.”
Pushed to give a direct answer, he added: “Throughout the pandemic, Beth, I’ve been at great pains to stress to the public that we have to watch where the pandemic is going, and we take whatever steps are necessary to protect public health.
“Plan B combined with the hugely ambitious acceleration of the Booster campaign, bringing it forward by a month so we offer a booster to every adult by the end of the year – we think that’s the right approach.”
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Today, ‘Plan B’ and other Covid measures will be taken to the House of Commons for MPs to vote on.
- Introducing mandatory vaccines for frontline NHS and social care staff from April 2022.
- The COVID Pass scheme – set to come into force on Wednesday – which will require people to show they have been fully vaccinated or have recently tested negative to enter nightclubs and other venues.
- Rules to make face coverings mandatory in most indoor spaces.
- Scrapping self-isolation rules for fully-vaccinated people who have been exposed to positive COVID cases in favour of daily lateral flow tests.
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Labour will back all the measure so the rules, already in force in England, will pass – but it could be the most significant rebellion Mr Johnson has seen from his own side.
Sky News reported that the Prime Minister has met potential rebel MPs face-to-face this afternoon in a last-ditch effort to persuade them to back his new COVID rules, and some in Government seem increasingly confident the number of rebels is gradually declining.
But do these rules go far enough? Should nightclubs, restaurants, and bars be closed in an attempt to prevent a Christmas lockdown? Have your say in the comments section below.
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