‘Work from home plans drawn up’ as UK Covid cases surge – follow live

Omicron more transmissible but milder than delta variant, initial research suggests

Boris Johnson is expected to announce further Covid restrictions, including advice to work from home, according to reports.

The prime minister is said to be drawing up the Plan B measures, which could also include vaccine passports for large venues, in response to rising cases and the spread of the omicron variant.

However Downing Street sources have said “no decisions have been made” over the possible imposition of fresh restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus.

It comes after experts warned Covid cases could hit 90,000 a day by Christmas, as hospital admissions begin to increase even before the more transmissible omicron variant takes hold across Britain.

Scientific government officials say the daily number of positive cases is on course to surpass the highest peak of the pandemic within a matter of weeks, with both the omicron and delta variants circulating alongside one another to fuel a swift wave of infections.


Finland’s PM faces criticism for staying out clubbing till 4am despite Covid exposure

Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin has come under fire for partying at a nightclub despite knowing she had come in contact with foreign minister Pekka Haavisto who had contracted Covid-19.

Photographs of her dancing with friends till about 4am at the Butchers nightclub in national capital Helsinki were published by Seiska, an entertainment magazine, sparking criticism.

Sravasti Dasgupta has more on this story:

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 11:35


Boris Johnson set to approve new Covid restrictions as omicron cases surge

Boris Johnson and senior ministers are today expected to agree the introduction of tighter “plan B” restrictions at a meeting called in response to the surge in infections with the Omicron variant of Covid.

Plan B involves new guidance to work from home if possible, as well as the introduction of Covid passes for crowded venues such as nightclubs, and is intended for introduction if the NHS is in danger of being overwhelmed.

Follow our breaking news story for more updates:

Boris Johnson set to approve new Covid restrictions

Boris Johnson and senior ministers are today expected to agree the introduction of tighter “plan B” restrictions at a meeting called in response to the surge in infections with the Omicron variant of Covid.

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 11:15


Plan B measures could see work from home rules return

Additional Covid restrictions could be announced as early as today, including a return to home working, according to reports.

Political correspondents, citing Whitehall sources, have said work from home advice could be reintroduced as early as tomorrow, while a form of certification could also be on the cards.

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 10:45


Lockdown to deal with omicron cannot be ruled out, says Neil Ferguson

A UK-wide lockdown to deal with the threat of the Omicron variant of coronavirus cannot be ruled out, although the current threat is unclear, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.

Professor Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London, whose data was instrumental to the UK going into lockdown in March 2020, said the variant is concerning but it is still unknown what its impact will be on severe disease.

Read the full story here:

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 10:36


Attitude of PM’s aides ‘totally reprehensible’, says daughter of woman who died alone in hospital

Jackie Green, whose 86-year-old mother Beryl Harris died alone in hospital on 18 December last year after contracting coronavirus, described the attitude of the prime minister’s aides in the now infamous video as “totally reprehensible”.

She told PA: “I couldn’t quite comprehend what I was watching, I had to watch it several times to sink in.

“I was absolutely appalled that members of the government could laugh and joke about a party when people were losing their loved ones.

“Even if they haven’t lost loved ones, they could get severely affected by Covid.

“To put it mildly, it was inappropriate. It was totally reprehensible behaviour.”

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 10:20


Should fines be issued to those who are not vaccinated against Covid? Tell us in our poll

Greece is to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for people aged 60 and over, in a drastic move to stem a new surge in coronavirus cases.

The Independent wants to hear your views on whether people who refuse to have a vaccine should face fines. Tell us your thoughts in the poll at the bottom of the story below:

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 10:05


‘Almost impossible’ for government to impose ‘very proscriptive’ restrictions, says Tory MP

A Tory MP has said the government is likely to find it “almost impossible” to introduce “very proscriptive” Covid-19 restrictions, after a video emerged showing aides joking about festive celebrations last year.

Sir Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, was speaking after footage was obtained by ITV News, showing prime minister Boris Johnson’s then-press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, laughing about a “fictional” Downing Street party in December 2020.

He told Times Radio: “I think now that, going forward, any measures will be advisory. I think it would be very difficult to enshrine them in law and then once again ask our poor police forces to enforce them.”

He added: “To be very proscriptive about this now, particularly as we’ve had such a successful vaccine rollout… is much more difficult, and was always going to be much more difficult. And the events of the last 24 hours make it probably almost impossible now.”

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 09:49


Covid booster shots likely needed ‘for years to come’, says Pfizer boss

People are likely to need Covid-19 booster shots “for a number of years to come”, a Pfizer boss has said.

Ben Osborn, country manager for the pharmaceutical firm in the UK, said it was not yet clear whether future boosters would be needed annually or every six months.

In an interview with PA news agency to mark the anniversary of the first jab being given as part of a mass vaccination programme, Mr Osborn said the campaign in the UK had been an “incredible endeavour”.

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 09:20


‘Too early’ to say how frequently Covid boosters will be needed, says NHS chief

NHS England’s national medical director said it is “too early” to say how frequently Covid-19 boosters will be needed in future, but stressed the booster programme is “even more critical” in the face of the omicron variant.

Professor Stephen Powis told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Well, it’s too early to say how frequently boosters might be given in the future.

“But what we know is that booster dose gives you a much higher level of antibodies in the blood – those are the antibodies that will neutralise the virus.”

He said boosters are “really important” because “omicron may potentially reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine, but that can be countered by the booster because that boosts the antibodies and gives you your protection back again. So, even more critical than it was a few weeks ago to get that booster dose”.

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 09:00


First person to get Covid-19 jab urges others to get vaccinated

Margaret Keenan, who a year ago became the first person to have a Covid-19 jab, has urged people to get a vaccination.

The 91-year-old said: “The best Christmas present I could have is being in good health and having had the jab and feeling free from this horrible virus.”

The grandmother, who has also had her booster and flu jabs, described being a global name as “wonderful”.

Chiara Giordano8 December 2021 08:44

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