Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford will join Whitehall ministers for the talks at 5pm today. It comes as a further 82,886 people tested positive for the virus and another 45 died
A crunch time Cobra meeting will take place this afternoon to decide if the UK will face last-minute lockdown restrictions.
Both Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford will join Whitehall ministers for the talks at 5pm today.
The meeting will be be chaired by Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay, in Boris Johnson’s absence.
It comes as a further 82,886 people tested positive for the virus today, while 45 more Covid deaths were recorded.
This morning Health Secretary Sajid Javid refused to rule out new Covid measures before Christmas following “sobering analysis” from scientific advisers warning about the threat from Omicron.
He said there were “no guarantees” amid the rise of the variant, but added that it is time to be “more cautious” amid its rapid spread.
Modelling from scientific advisers, published on Saturday, showed that if ministers stuck to the current Plan B measures, there could be a peak of 3,000 hospital admissions in England per day.
Dinendra Haria / LNP)
Advisers also said hospital admissions with the variant in the UK are “probably around one tenth of the true number” due to a lag in reporting.
Despite the booster programme ramping up, experts have said it would not help in terms of hospitals admissions in the near future.
This is because many of those admitted will be people who are infected now before immunity has had time to build.
Javid noted that Omicron is “spreading rapidly” and now accounts for around 80% of infections in London and about 60% in England.
Asked about ruling out new coronavirus measures before Christmas, he said there is “a lot of uncertainty”, but that it is “time to be more cautious”.
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He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think.
“At this point we just have to keep everything under review.”
Of the advice from scientists, he said: “It’s a very sobering analysis. We take it very seriously.
“We do have to challenge data and underlying assumptions, I think that is appropriate, and take into account a broader set of facts.”
The gloomy outlook for the holidays comes exactly a year after Boris Johnson cancelled Christmas for almost 18 million people across London and parts of England, in the face of the spread of the Alpha variant which had been first identified in Kent.
Javid insisted that factors including vaccinations, antiviral medication and other treatments for Covid-19 mean “the situation today in terms of our defences is very different”.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.