Politics

Critical Covid-19 announcement expected at 4pm today with new insight on Omicron


The new statistics will come as Boris Johnson chairs a meeting with top officials to decide if fresh Covid restrictions are needed in England

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Boris Johnson set for crunch data briefing ahead of decision over Covid rules

Officials are braced for a key Covid-19 release today that will provide fresh insight on how Omicron is affecting England.

The statistics released at 4pm will show the latest on how quickly the new variant is spreading across the nation.

At around the same time, Boris Johnson will hear from England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and the Government’s Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The virtual meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister from Chequers, will determine if new Covid restrictions are needed to curb Omicron.







England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty will discuss the latest Covid figures with the PM today
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Image:

PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

It will be the first time officials will see how Omicron has spread over the Christmas period, with three days worth of data lumped into this one report.

The latest UK infection data dates back to Christmas Eve, when more than 122,000 people tested positive in the previous 24 hours, while hospital data on the Government dashboard has not been updated since December 20.

Ahead of its publication, a Tory heavyweight said medics “try to make out the worst possible case” when using figures.

Urging the PM to be “very very cautious”, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench Tories, told LBC: “All these medics try and make out the worst possible case, but actually if you look at the infectivity rate among the entire population of the UK, in every category for tests of antibodies it is well over 90%.

“The latest figures we had before Christmas showed that the number of cases in hospital was relatively stable – and that is the main measure why we need any further lockdowns, is to deal with infectivity in hospitals, and I don’t see that before Christmas.”







Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Johnson hold. a virtual call in Chequers ahead of Christmas Day
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Image:

Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Stre)

On Christmas Eve, one in 35 people tested positive for Covid-19, official stats from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed.

One in 35 is the equivalent of 1.5million people, and is the highest number since the ONS began estimating infection levels for England in May 2020, the ONS noted.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants face an anxious wait as the dithering PM prepares to set out his latest position on Omicron.

The retail sector is struggling too with London’s West End experiencing a drop of almost half of pre-pandemic footfall levels on Boxing Day.

Jace Tyrell chief executive of the West End company called on Mr Johnson to give businesses some clarity so businesses have time to prepare.

Hospitality bosses have urged the Premier to rule out tougher curbs and bolster the struggling sector, which has been hit by a string of cancelled bookings as cautious families and would-be revellers shelved planned gatherings.

Despite his delayed announcement, the PM is not expected to announce new Covid laws ahead of New Year’s Day.

Around one in 35 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to December 19, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from one in 45 in the week to December 16.

One in 35 is the equivalent of about 1.5 million people and is the highest number since the ONS began estimating infection levels for England in May 2020.

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