LONDON: There will be no further Covid restrictions in England before the new year, Sajid Javid has said. But the health secretary said people should “remain cautious” and celebrate outside on New Year’s Eve if possible.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said ministers would continue to monitor the data and urged people to get their “first, second or booster jab without delay”.
Meanwhile, according to BBC report, both England and Scotland reported record cases over Christmas. Some 113,628 new infections were reported in England on 25 December, 103,558 on 26 December and 98,515 on 27 December.
Provisional data for Scotland for the same three days showed there were 8,252 cases on Christmas Day, with 11,030 the following day and 10,562 on Monday.
Only partial Covid data for the UK has been published over the Christmas period, and full figures will be released later this month.
Dr Sarah Pitt, a virologist at the University of Brighton, told the BBC the cases data was “likely to be an underestimate” for several reasons, including people being less inclined to get a test on Christmas Day and data processing delays over the festive season.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the expected steep rise in cases in Scotland “is now materialising”. Northern Ireland has not published any cases data since Christmas Eve, while Wales recorded another 5,335 cases on 26 December.
Mr Javid said the government would reassess whether more measures were needed in the new year.
The decision not to introduce new measures came hours after the prime minister was briefed by England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Latest figures showed there were 8,474 people with Covid currently in hospital in England – the highest since March, but well below last winter’s peak of more than 34,000.
England reports record 117,000 daily cases
According to BBC, Covid cases in England have hit another record high, with a further 117,093 infections reported on Tuesday. Some 9,546 people are in hospital with Covid, the highest since March but well below the peak of 34,000 in January.
So far, the surge in cases driven by Omicron has not led to a similarly sharp rise in hospital admissions, even taking into account the lag between infection and hospital treatment.
It comes as a UK minister said people should enjoy new year cautiously. Care minister Gillian Keegan said revellers should take a lateral flow test before going out and celebrate in well-ventilated areas.
Unlike Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the government has decided against introducing new Covid measures in England ahead of new year.
Prof Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, told the Today programme the decision not to introduce new curbs before then was “probably fine”, with data showing “very low” numbers of vaccinated people in intensive care.
He said the Omicron variant was “not the same disease” we saw last year, adding he thought “the horrific scenes that we saw a year ago” were “now history”.
Not all experts have agreed with the government’s decision to hold off imposing further measures, with Prof Andrew Hayward – epidemiologist and a member of the advisory group Sage – saying ministers seemed to be acting “on the optimistic end of the spectrum”.