Health

Omicron ‘plainly milder’; new measures not needed, UK’s Johnson says

“The
way forward for the country as a whole is to continue with the path that we are
on,” he told broadcasters. “Of course we will keep all measures under
review, but the mixture of things that we are doing at the moment is I think
the right one.”

Despite a
huge surge in infections, Johnson has so far mainly resisted imposing new
restrictions in England, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the UK
population. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which control their own
rules, have imposed some new measures.

Johnson said
pressure on hospitals would be “considerable” in the next couple of
weeks, but omicron was “plainly milder” than previous variants, and
the country was in a stronger position than it was earlier in the pandemic.

Britain had
a “very, very high level” of vaccination, he said, and it was
continuing to build up its defences with the booster programme.

“The
majority of people who are in ICU (intensive care) have not been vaccinated and
the vast majority – about 90 percent – have not been boosted,” he said
during a visit to a vaccination centre in Buckinghamshire, south east England.

Johnson
imposed limited measures in England, known as “Plan B”, last month,
including the wearing of face coverings on public transport and in shops, but
stopped short of ordering restrictions on gatherings or closing businesses.

The
government said on Sunday that older school children in England would be
required to wear face coverings when they return after the Christmas break.

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