Boris Johnson set to delay Covid restrictions announcement on Wednesday as ministers review Christmas Omicron data

BORIS Johnson is set to delay his announcement on Covid restrictions until ministers have assessed the possible effects of Christmas mixing, it has been reported.

No10 is due to review the current Plan B measures on Wednesday, when parliament returns from recess.

But ministers believe any changes to the rules – either stripping the country of Plan B measures or mirroring tougher restrictions like those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are unlikely.

It comes as a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

A source told the i: “We are cautiously optimistic for now, but things could change in a single day.”

Daily cases and hospitalisations have grown rapidly in the last fortnight, with the number of Covid patients reaching its highest level since February.

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The number of people on ventilators, however, has barely increased.

Scientists believe the full effects of the Christmas period may not show up in the data until the end of this week.

And Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News this morning: "At the moment there's nothing in the data to suggest we need to go further but of course, we will look at the Wednesday review and then beyond that keep monitoring the data very carefully."

He added that the numbers of people in hospital with coronavirus have begun to rise in the over-50s, "which we are concerned about, but on the whole, actually the number of people in ICU [intensive care] has come down, which is good news".

Mr Zahawi said: "If we see more leakage of infection in the over-50s – because most of the surge in infections from the Omicron variant has been in the under-50s – then that is more likely that those people end up with severe infection and hospitalisation.

"The good news is obviously that 90 per cent of those people over 50 have had the booster jab – that is the real protection against severe infection and hospitalisation."

A further 137,583 Covid cases were recorded in England and Wales yesterday after infections reached record highs for five days in a row.

On Sunday, Health minister Ed Argar said hospitalisations are not crippling the NHS – although he expects them to rise.

Revealing 789 people were currently on ventilators, Mr Argar said on Sunday: "I'm seeing nothing in the data right in front of me in the immediate situation, that suggests a need for further restrictions."

"We need cool, calm heads. We need to look at the data and we need to do everything possible to avoid any restrictions – restrictions or curbs must be the absolute last resort.”

The minister insisted Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid are monitoring the data every day. 



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