UK will be overwhelmed by 1 million Omicron cases by end of month, govt warns

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Sajid Javid has told MPs that Omicron cases could exceed 1 million by the end of the month as face mask advice has been extended.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Plan B will be implemented in the UK, including working from home measures, Covid passes for most indoor venues and the extension of face masks.

The Health Secretary delivered a worrying statement in the House of Commons on the Omicron variant.

He said: "Although there are only 568 confirmed Omicron cases in the UK we know that the actual number of infections will be significantly higher.

"The UK health security agency estimates that the number of infections are approximately 20 times higher than the number of confirmed cases, and so the current number of infections is probably closer to 10,000.

"UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) also estimate that at the current observed doubling rate of between two and a half and three days, by the end of this month, infections could exceed 1 million."

He added: "There is still a lot to learn, but some important data has emerged recently."

"It is far more transmissible than the Delta variant."

The Prime Minister addressed the nation in a last-minute press conference on Wednesday evening, claiming it is now "proportionate and reasonable" to implement Plan B.

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The government's Covid Plan B will see the introduction of working from home from Monday if possible, to try and stop the rise in infections.

Face masks will also be made mandatory inside all indoor hospitality venues from Friday, while vaccine passports will also be implemented at larger events.

But the Prime Minister insisted this is not another lockdown and promised Nativity plays will not be scrapped if they stick to Plan B rules.

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Mr Johnson said rules around the wearing of face coverings would be "further extended", as of Friday, to "most public indoor venues" including theatres and cinemas.

The Prime Minister told a press briefing at Downing Street: "There will of course be exemptions where it is not practical, such as when eating, drinking, exercising or singing."

If it becomes clear that boosters can hold Omicron at bay then measures will be relaxed to normal, Mr Johnson added.

He told the press conference: "It has become increasingly clear that Omicron is growing much faster than the previous Delta variant and is spreading rapidly all around the world."

  • Covid vaccine
  • Coronavirus

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