New coronavirus measures before Christmas have not been ruled out by the Health Secretary, who said there are “no guarantees” following a “sobering analysis” from scientific advisers warning about the threat from Omicron.
Sajid Javid said while there remains uncertainty about the new variant, it is time to be “more cautious” amid the rapid spread of the strain.
His comments came as it was reported stricter measures could be imposed in light of the warning from experts that there are likely already hundreds of thousands of new infections every day.
Modelling from scientific advisers, published on Saturday, showed that if ministers stuck to the current Plan B measures, there could be a peak of 3,000 hospital admissions in England per day.
Advisers also said hospital admissions with the variant in the UK are “probably around one-tenth of the true number” due to a lag in reporting.
Despite the ramping-up of the booster programme, experts said it would not help in terms of hospitals admissions in the near future, as many would-be people who are infected now before immunity has had time to build.
Mr Javid said Omicron is “spreading rapidly” and now accounts for around 80% of infections in London and about 60% in England.
Asked about ruling out new coronavirus measures before Christmas, he said there is “a lot of uncertainty”, but that it is “time to be more cautious”.
He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think.
“At this point, we just have to keep everything under review.”
Of the advice from scientists, he said: “It’s a very sobering analysis. We take it very seriously.
“We do have to challenge data and underlying assumptions, I think that is appropriate, and take into account a broader set of facts.”
Speaking to Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News, he said ministers are monitoring the data and discussing it with scientists “almost on an hourly basis”.
He confirmed that if new measures were to be proposed, Parliament would be recalled to approve them, describing that approach as “only right and proper”.
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