The Prime Minister has confirmed that Plan B restrictions are set to continue amid fears of a rapidly rising Covid and Omicron cases.
Speaking during a televised press conference Boris Johnson said current restrictions in the country will continue, adding anyone who thinks “our battle with Covid is over” is “profoundly wrong”.
It comes as the UK recorded more than 200,000 daily cases for the first time, with 218,724 cases confirmed.
At a glance: 5 key points
- Boris Johnson has confirmed Plan B restrictions will continue in England amid soaring Covid cases across the country
- Fears had been raised that stricter rules could be introduced as the UK continues to smash daily positive case records day-by-day, however the Prime Minister confirmed no further measures would be taken and said the country will stick to current rules
- Mr Johnson did however warn that anyone thinking the fight against the virus is over is “profoundly wrong” and urged the public to proceed with “utmost caution”
- He also confirmed a new testing plan has been developed for 100,000 critical workers in England to cut staff shortages, with plans to also support the supply chain in the wake of staff absences
- The announcement comes after the busy festive period where many may have socialised amid a wave of Omicron, with cases soaring as a result
What did Boris Johnson say at the Covid update?
In his announcement, Mr Johnson said those in England were to continue following Plan B restrictions, which were originally introduced from the first week of December 2021.
He said: “As our NHS moves to a war footing, I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow that we continue with Plan B.
“Because the public have responded and changed their behaviour, your behaviour, buying valuable time to get boosters in arms and help the NHS to cope with the Omicron wave.
“So together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.
“We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus.”
The current Plan B measures includes a return to working from home where possible, face masks in more venues and Covid vaccination passes in more places also.
The choice to stick to Plan B measures comes after the announcement that Covid Nightingale ‘surge hubs’ would be created to help the country manage soaring case numbers.
Amid the massive case numbers, Mr Johnson confirmed staff shortages across the supply chain may take place.
However, he also revealed plans have been put in place to help 100,000 critical workers to test daily and reduce the impact of staff shortage issues.
Those identified as critical workers includes workers in food processing, transport and the Border Force, with workplaces receiving test kits for every working day from 10 January.
What else was said at the press conference?
Professor Sir Chris Whitty also revealed promising data on the booster jabs effect on hospitalisation with Omicron.
He said: “We now have confidence that the booster provides around 88% overall protection against being hospitalised and it is likely to be even greater than that for severe disease and mortality.”
“Anybody who has not been boosted who is eligible really should do so. I think the idea that this is a mild disease, as opposed to less likely to be hospitalised, is easily demonstrated to be incorrect based on these data.”
He also said that he was “saddened” by people who had chose not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine for a non-health reason and ended up in intensive care with the virus.
Sir Chris said: “The great majority of them are not anti-vaxxers in ordinary sense with some really weird ideas.
“In so far as I am frustrated it is simply people deliberately trying to scare away fellow citizens from something that is potentially going to be life-saving for them.”
How many Covid cases are there in the UK?
As of 4 January, 218,724 daily positive Covid cases had been recorded between England and Scotland.
Data for Wales and Northern Ireland is not included in the total.
It marks the first time the the UK has seen daily cases rise above 200,000, although the total does include delayed reporting of cases due to the festive period.
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