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Sajid Javid fails to rule out fresh Omicron curbs in England before Christmas

UK well being secretary Sajid Javid has failed to rule out tighter Covid restrictions in England to stem the unfold of the Omicron coronavirus variant before Christmas, warning there have been “no guarantees” whereas coping with a pandemic.

Government science advisers have instructed ministers that additional measures might have to be carried out swiftly in England in order avert a wave of hospitalisations related in scale to final winter.

Questioned on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One if he might rule out tighter restrictions, Javid mentioned: “We are assessing the situation, it’s very fast-moving. We’ve seen with Omicron there’s a lot that we still don’t know about Omicron.

“That’s the truth of the matter. The reality is there’s a lot of uncertainty,” including that it was “time to be more cautious”.

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Pushed on his refusal to rule out a brief nationwide lockdown, a so-called “circuit-breaker”, or new restrictions before Christmas, he replied: “There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think. At this point we just have to keep everything under review.”

The authorities’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has warned that England might face “at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day” early subsequent 12 months if ministers stick to prime minister Boris Johnson’s “Plan B” technique.

If no additional measures had been carried out, day by day deaths might quantity no less than 600 by February, the advisers added.

Confirmed Covid-19 infections surpassed 90,000 circumstances a day for the second successive day throughout the UK on Friday, following per week of document excessive caseloads. Some 90,418 folks examined optimistic in the newest 24-hour interval, up 67 per cent on the identical day final week.

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Sage mentioned restrictions on indoor social contact and indoor hospitality had been doubtless to be wanted before the brand new 12 months to stop a peak of day by day hospital admissions related to final January when almost 4,000 Covid sufferers had been hospitalised in a single day.

Control measures, together with “reducing group sizes, increasing physical distancing, reducing duration of contacts and closing high risk premises” could possibly be wanted on high of face masks, air flow and capability limits, the committee mentioned.

“It’s a very sobering analysis. We take it very seriously,” Javid instructed the BBC on Sunday. Johnson has promised to recall parliament if he does suggest new measures.

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Tory MPs worry the federal government is already presiding over a “lockdown by stealth”. Rishi Sunak, the UK chancellor, is dealing with rising strain to present a package deal of assist for sectors comparable to hospitality, retail and journey.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has declared a “major incident” in town after 26,000 new circumstances had been reported on Friday, which he mentioned had been inflicting employees absences in the capital’s emergency companies.

Speaking to the Marr present, he mentioned it was “inevitable” new restrictions would have to be launched. “The direction of travel is only going one way: cases doubling over two days”, he mentioned.

“I think if we don’t bring in new restrictions sooner rather than later, you’re going to see even more positive cases and potentially public services like the NHS on the verge of collapse, if not collapsing.”

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