The UK government’s chief public health adviser has warned that Britain’s Omicron infection wave could reach one million a day by the end of December, amid growing concern that there will be social distancing restrictions this Christmas.
Dr Susan Hopkins told MPs that the Omicron Covid variant was initially doubling every two to three days in the UK, but the pace appears to have accelerated, leading to a further spread of the disease that threatens to put “significant” pressure on the NHS.
Wales’ Health Minister Elonid Morgan said stricter restrictions could not be ruled out over Christmas.
At a government news conference, she said, ministers did not want to “cancel” Christmas, but nothing was taken off the table. The latest review of the lockdowns in Wales is expected to be announced on Friday, with another planned next week.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday he believed “with some confidence” there would be no need for more Covid restrictions in England before Christmas.
He told Sky News: “We want people to be able to enjoy Christmas this year. We are definitely in a better position than we were this time last year. We want people to be sane but enjoy Christmas.”
“I think we can, with some confidence, say that people will be able to enjoy their Christmas gathering with their friends and family only with what has already been announced.”
The South African Grand Prix which first discovered alternative Omicron has accused the UK of “overreacting” by talking about new shutdowns.
Dr Angelique Coetzee told Sky News that many of her patients had mild symptoms and there was a “big gap” between “the science and what is really happening”. Read what she said in the headlines here.
Professor Adam Fane also cautioned against extrapolating data from South African studies of the UK population, adding that “we have to realize that if there are too many cases, we may end up with a lot of people in hospital even if a percentage are sick.” less “.
He also told BBC Breakfast: “The other thing we need to be careful about with South Africa is that there are many important differences between that country and ours.
“They’re much younger than the population, young people don’t get very sick with this virus and many of them have already been infected, and even though we’ve got very high levels of immunity from vaccination, they’ve got very high levels of immunity from infection, and those are two different things.”
An emergency meeting of the Delegated Governments is scheduled for 5 p.m. today.
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