Covid: Sajid Javid warns of ‘strict measures’ needed to contain Omicron

Health chiefs have warned that ‘strict measures’ are needed within the next few days (Image: Getty)

Ministers have been warned that ‘strict national measures’ need to be taken by the end of next week to prevent the peak of Covid hospitalizations last winter, it has been reported.

Health Minister Sajid Javid is believed to have been warned on Tuesday by the UK’s Health and Security Service that the spread of the Omicron variant could overwhelm the NHS with 5,000 people being hospitalized every day.

Although there are currently no plans to go beyond the Plan B measures reintroduced this week, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove has warned the UK is facing a ‘worrisome situation’. deeply concerned’.

UKHSA advice for Mr Javid, leaked to Guardians, indicating that ‘in a reasonable range of situations, stringent action is needed on or before December 18 if doubling time is at 2.5 days’.

It warned that even if the doubling period extends to nearly five days, ‘strict action may still be needed in December’.

The advice goes on to say: ‘Omicron’s rapid spread means that action to limit pressure on the health system may have to come sooner than intuition suggests.’

Sajid Javid is said to have received a presentation warning the NHS could be overwhelmed (Image: Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock)

UKHSA says 448 more confirmed cases of the Omicron variant have been reported across the UK, bringing the total to 1,265 cases.

The agency warned on Friday that Omicron is expected to become the dominant strain of bacteria in the UK within the next few days.

It says the number of cases will exceed one million by the end of the month if the current trend continues.

However, while two doses of the vaccine were much less effective against the new strain when compared with Delta, effectiveness ‘increased significantly’ after the third dose, it added.

After chairing Cobra’s meeting with the first ministers of the respective administrations, Mr Gove warned that evidence suggesting Omicron was ‘more likely’ than previous Covid-19 variants ‘likely’. ‘ resulted in hospitalization for fully vaccinated individuals.

The Cabinet minister said the current measures ‘absolutely’ needed to be ‘reviewed’, but he felt the approach taken was ‘proportionate’.

He added: ‘We recognize the importance of balancing people’s ability to integrate into their lives with the need to protect them from this virus.’

The Government’s Plan B measures will be put to a Commons vote next week (Image: Rex/Shutterstock)

From Friday, in the UK, the legal requirement to wear a mask has been extended to more indoor spaces including museums, galleries and community centres.

People will return to work on Monday and Covid passports required for major venues from Wednesday, when the Government’s Plan B comes into effect.

The new regulations are due to be debated and voted on in the Commons next week – and with Labour’s backing, they are certain to be passed despite the prospect of a major Conservative uprising.

The tougher restrictions have been deemed ‘necessary bad’ by Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

He told a Royal Medical Society press conference: ‘I think it’s a necessary evil… it’s very harmful to parts of the economy, especially the hospitality sector, retail sector – they will be affected.’

The government also said on Friday that 120 more people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

Separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics show there are now 171,000 registered deaths in the UK where Covid-19 is mentioned on death certificates.

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Huynh Nguyen

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