Boris Johnson has provided an update on Covid restrictions as a government review approaches.
Ahead of the government review taking place on Wednesday, January 5, the prime minister acknowledged that the NHS was likely to come under ‘considerable’ pressure in the coming weeks, as a result of rising hospitalisations and staff shortages.
However, Johnson has confirmed that no new restrictions will be implemented in England for the time being, saying that the government plans to ‘continue with the path that we’re on’.
‘I appreciate the pressures that our hospitals are under, I think it’s vital that we make sure that we help them by trying to contain the pandemic in the ways that I’ve set out,’ he told Sky News, adding, ‘We’ll keep everything on the review [because] we keep all measures under review, but the mixture of things that we’re doing at the moment is, I think, the right one.’
Johnson urged people in England to continue to follow plan B guidelines, including wearing face masks in shops and on public transport, and working from home where possible. He also emphasised the importance of getting a booster jab, which has shown improved efficacy against the Omicron variant.
During a visit to Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, he said:
No matter how incredibly transmissible Omicron is – and there’s no question it really spreads very, very fast – it is different from previous variants.
And it does seem pretty conclusively to be less severe than Delta or Alpha, it is putting fewer people into ICU and, sadly, the people who are getting into ICU are the people who aren’t boosted, so get boosted.
His comments come as several NHS trusts have declared major incidents as a result of staff shortages, however Johnson ruled out further reducing the isolation period for people who test positive, saying, ‘We don’t want to be releasing people back into the workplace when they’re still infectious.’
Johnson rejected accusations that refusing to implement further restrictions was a ‘gamble’, but declined to suggest that the pandemic was nearing its end, saying to do so while cases were still rising would be ‘absolute folly’.
More to follow…