It may soon start to feel a lot more like Christmas - at least last year’s- as the health secretary has refused to rule out further Covid restrictions for England. This new development is coming in the wake of a spike in the number of cases being recorded of the new Covid variant across the UK.
The Omicron variant is spreading fast across the country, with a further 12,000 new cases having been confirmed in the UK; the actual number could be much higher.
When asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr about the reintroduction of stricter rules to contain the spread, health secretary, Sajid Javid said:
There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don't think. At this point we just have to keep everything under review.
On Saturday, official figures from the government showed 90,418 recorded cases of Covid in the UK in the last 24 hours, while 900 patients had been admitted to hospital. In the capital, 25,551 infections were recorded in a single day.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said it was ‘inevitable’ new coronavirus measures would be brought in for England. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Khan said:
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.
Leaked documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) suggest that, without intervention beyond current Plan B rules in England, hospital admissions could reach 3,000 a day. Mr Javid had this to say about the notes from the advisory group:
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 Plan B rules currently in place in England include Covid passes to access some events, wearing of face masks in more spaces, and people being encouraged to work from home if they can.