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New measures ahead of Christmas to tackle the spread of Omicron not ruled out

New coronavirus measures before Christmas were not ruled out by the health secretary, who said there were “no guarantees” following a “sobering analysis” of advisers scientists warning of Omicron threat.

Sajid Javid said that while there were still uncertainties about the new variant, it was time to be “more careful” with the strain’s rapid spread.

His comments came as it was reported that tougher measures could be imposed in light of experts’ warning that there are likely already hundreds of thousands of new infections every day.

The advisers also said hospital admissions with the UK variant are “likely around a tenth of the actual number” due to a delay in notification.

Despite accelerating the booster program, experts said it would not help in terms of hospital admissions in the near future, as many would be infected now before immunity had time. to develop oneself.

Mr Javid said Omicron “is spreading rapidly” and now accounts for around 80% of infections in London and around 60% in England.

He told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think so.

“At this point, we just have to keep everything under control. “

“We have to challenge the data and the underlying assumptions, I think that’s appropriate, and take into account a larger set of facts.”

Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky News on Sunday, he said ministers were monitoring the data and discussing it with scientists “almost every hour.”

He confirmed that if new measures were to be proposed, Parliament would be called back to approve them, calling the approach “only fair and appropriate”.

A Cobra meeting was due to take place on Sunday with the decentralized nations.

The grim outlook comes exactly one year after Boris Johnson canceled Christmas for nearly 18 million people in London and parts of England, amid the spread of the Alpha variant which was first identified in the Kent.

Mr Javid insisted that factors such as vaccinations, antiviral drugs and other treatments for Covid-19 mean that “the situation today in terms of our defenses is very different”.

Professor Sir Mark Walport acknowledged that this was the second Christmas which could be “considerably spoiled” for people, but believed further action was needed as infections “are increasing rapidly”.

Echoing advice over the past few days from England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, he said people should “be careful and only have the social contacts that are really important to you”.

Sir Mark, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Sky action must be taken “to maintain the rate of hospital admissions, reduce pressure on the workforce”, noting that many people are on sick leave due to infection.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Stricter measures could be imposed after Boxing Day, according to an article in The Sun newspaper, which indicated that the contingency plan had not yet been presented to ministers.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who declared a major incident due to the “extremely worrying” increase in cases in the capital, said it was “inevitable” that new coronavirus measures would be put in place .

He told Marr that he “must, must, must be a major supporting package for our hospitality, our culture and our retail business.”

Mr Javid, defending their recent approach, said it was “not quite right to say that the government is doing nothing at all”.

He told Marr: “I fully understand that businesses are now coming forward to say ‘I am hard hit’, and they have every right to make these representations to the government.

“The Chancellor and his team are listening, I think the Chancellor has done a great job throughout this pandemic to deal with this and there is no doubt that he will keep things under review. “

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

Brexit Minister Lord Frost, who resigned on Saturday, gave an indication of his belief in the Prime Minister’s state of mind, saying in his resignation letter that “we must also learn to live with Covid and I know that is also your instinct “.

It has been reported that the public may not have access to Sandringham to see members of the Royal Family attending church on Christmas Day (Joe Giddens / PA)
It has been reported that the public may not have access to Sandringham to see members of the Royal Family attending church on Christmas Day (Joe Giddens / PA)

Buckingham Palace declined to comment, but it is understood that Christmas plans remain under review.

Last week, it was confirmed that the traditional pre-Christmas family celebration for members of the royal family, which was due to be held on Tuesday, was called off over fears it could endanger the festive arrangements of too many people if it was unfolding.