Covid rules ‘could be tightened after Christmas’ as Omicron cases surge in UK


SAGE has warned that without a further tightening of Covid rules, modelling indicates a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England and it has advised implementing further restrictions

Hospitals in London are already seeing increased admissions as Omicron spikes in the capital
Hospitals in London are already seeing increased admissions as Omicron spikes in the capital

Tougher restrictions should be introduced as the Omicron Covid variant spreads rapidly across the UK, experts have warned.

SAGE scientists have warned ‘Plan B’ measures alone would not be enough to prevent the variant ravaging the NHS – and recommended closing indoor pubs and cancelling crowded events.

Experts have warned there are likely already hundreds of thousands of new infections every day.

The number of Omicron cases recorded across the country officially hit almost 25,000 as of 6pm on Friday, up by more than 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Seven people believed to have had the Omicron variant had died as of Thursday, up from one death in the UKHSA’s previous data which ran up to Tuesday.

Admissions to hospital of people thought to have the variant increased to 85 from 65.

The number of Omicron cases recorded across the country officially hit almost 25,000 as of 6pm on Friday
(

Image:

Mark Thomas/REX/Shutterstock)

Stricter measures could be imposed after Boxing Day, according to a report in The Sun, which said the contingency plan had not yet been presented to ministers.

While The Sunday Telegraph reports SAGE is seeking an “immediate” curtailment of indoor mixing – putting Christmas gatherings at risk

It comes after scientific advisers to the Government said hospital admissions with the variant in the UK are “probably around one 10th of the true number” due to a lag in reporting.

The police clash with protesters in London ahead of a march in protest against the latest Covid restrictions in England
(

Image:

Andy Barton/REX/Shutterstock)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a major incident due to the “hugely concerning” surge in cases across the capital, as he voiced fears about staff absences in vital public services including the NHS, the fire service and police due to infection.

Asked about a possible tightening of restrictions after Christmas, a Government spokesman said they will “continue to look closely at all data and keep our measures under review”.

The prospect of new rules comes less than a week after Boris Johnson suffered a rebellion from a large number of Conservative backbenchers who defied him to vote against the mandatory use of Covid health passes for large venues.

Shoppers walk along Oxford Street in central London last week
(

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Brexit minister Lord Frost, who quit on Saturday, gave an indication of his belief as to the Prime Minister’s mindset, saying in his resignation letter that “we also need to learn to live with Covid and I know that is your instinct too”.

It comes as The Mirror reported that the royal family’s traditional Christmas Day walk to church might not be accessible to the public due to the pandemic.

And a report in The Times on Saturday said officials were preparing draft rules which, if introduced, would ban indoor mixing in England – except for work – for two weeks after Christmas when pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor table service.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty is worried about the rising cases in England
(

Image:

Getty Images)

People would be able to meet in groups of up to six outdoors, the newspaper said, adding that ministers were yet to formally consider the plans.

Last week, it was confirmed the traditional pre-Christmas family party for the royals, due to be held on Tuesday, was being cancelled amid concerns it could put too many people’s festive arrangements at risk if it went ahead.

The latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency showed there had been 10,059 additional confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 reported across the UK, bringing the total confirmed cases of the variant across the four nations to 24,968.

Pupils wear face masks and sanitise their hands in a bid to protect against Covid
(

Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

In England, the number of deaths of people with the Omicron variant has risen to seven, and hospital admissions for people with confirmed or suspected Omicron rose to 85.

Advice from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O), in documents also released on Saturday but dated December 8 said that, in almost all modelling, a significant reduction in transmission “similar in scale to the national lockdown” of January this year would be required “to keep hospitalisations below the height of previous peaks”.

Experts warned that indoor mixing is the “biggest risk factor” for the spread of the variant, and that large gatherings risked creating “multiple spreading events”.

They said the ramping up of the booster programme would not help in terms of hospitals admissions at this stage, as many would be those who are infected now, before immunity has had time to build.

The Liberal Democrats have called for Parliament to be recalled on Monday to debate the next steps, with party leader Sir Ed Davey saying: “We cannot allow the Prime Minister to sit on his hands while the NHS and businesses are on the brink of collapse.”

Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews and member of Sage, said it was clear that ‘Plan B’ measures alone would not be enough to stop the spiralling numbers of cases and cautioned that waiting until after Christmas to act is “probably too late”.

A Cobra meeting was expected to be held on Sunday with the devolved nations.

Read More

Read More




www.mirror.co.uk

See also  Overhaul bid for Commons as Tory Porn MP caps series of scandals

Related Posts

George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.