Shoppers have rushed out in their droves today to stock up on festive food after Boris Johnson gave the green light for households mixing on Christmas Day.
Massive queues formed outside supermarkets including Tesco and Marks and Spencer, butchers and cheesemongers in Bristol, Crawley and Hampshire today after the Prime Minister ruled out imposing fresh Covid restrictions for December 25.
People forced to self-isolate after testing positive for the virus have struggled to get food for Saturday delivered by the likes of Asda and Waitrose.But a change in the rules means that thousands who faced Christmas alone can now enjoy festivities with friends and family.
Sajid Javid Javid hailed ‘encouraging’ evidence that Omicron is milder than Delta amid hopes a New Year lockdown can be avoided.But he later warned: ‘We will keep the situation under review. We will keep analysing that data and if need to do anything more we will’.
The Health Secretary also stressed that the rapid spread of the variant will still pose a serious threat and huge numbers of cases would mean ‘significant hospitalisations’.
And with more critical evidence on the variant due to be published later, Government ministers are once again caught between the demands of scientific and medical advisors for caution, and businesses and Tories who want to keep the economy running.
Scientists have cautioned that Omicron still poses a threat to the NHS because it is so fast-spreading.Professor Andrew Hayward, a SAGE member, warned today that the picture is unclear for elderly people and pressure on the NHS is ‘just going to get worse’.
Nearly 1.4million people had Covid across the UK last week, official data from the country’s largest surveillance study showed today.
Vital services across London are suffering a staffing crisis due to the variant, with NHS staff absences more than tripling this month and 500 TfL workers absent.
However, there has been speculation that Mr Johnson could avoid a confrontation with lockdown-sceptic MPs and ministers by issuing guidance rather than legal curbs.
The Prime Minister’s green light triggered a mad scramble to race home for Christmas.However, travel plans descended into chaos today, with furious rail passengers complaining of train cancellations while a car fire brought part of the M5 to a standstill.
More than 18million vehicles will hit the roads today and Christmas Eve to see family and friends over the holiday, with the RAC estimating that 5million alone will head out tomorrow on what is being dubbed ‘frantic festive Friday’.
As the coronavirus crisis lurches into its latest phase:
- Millions will face travel chaos thanks to rail strikes, airport disruption and predictions of the busiest roads in years;
- Vital services across London are suffering a staffing crisis due to Omicron, with NHS staff absences more than tripling this month;
- Nearly 1.4million people had Covid across the UK last week, official data from the country’s largest surveillance study showed;
- Britain is considering giving out fourth Covid vaccines in a bid to stop the surge of Omicron cases, following the lead of Germany and Israel;
- The Army will be called in to help run makeshift Covid wards inside hospital canteens, car parks and meeting rooms if the NHS becomes overwhelmed;
- Covid hospitalisations in London have risen 50 per cent in a week to 301, approaching the Government’s threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown;
- The Queen will be joined on Christmas Day by Prince Charles and Camilla at Windsor Castle.
Panicking shoppers rushed out in their droves to stock up on food at a Tesco supermarket in Bristol
People are seen queuing for a butchers in Petersfield in Hampshire as Covid uncertainty grips the country
People are seeing queueing outside a shop in Cheshire to stock up on festive goods ahead of December 25
People are seen queuing for a butchers in Petersfield in Hampshire this morning
Shoppers formed a big queue outside a Marks and Spencer store in Crawley this morning
People were seeing forming a big queue outside a butchers in Gravesend today amid Covid uncertainty
Social media users shared images of people queueing for the cheesemonger in Didsbury
Hundreds of passengers at Euston Rail Station in London waiting for updates on their train services today
During rush hour, a car fire on the M5 northbound between junctions 19 and 20 near Clevedon brought traffic to a standstill
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Researchers at Imperial College London found Omicron is 10 per cent less likely to cause hospitalisation in someone who has never been vaccinated or previously infected with Covid than with Delta.Hospitalisation is up to 20 per cent less likely in the general population — including those who have been infected or vaccinated — and 45 per cent less likely for at least a night
This graph from the Scottish paper show the age distribution of cases of Omicron (left, as ‘S Negative’) compared to Delta (right, as ‘S Positive’).It shows that children were most likely to test positive for Delta in Scotland whereas young adults are driving the country’s Omicron wave
The above graphs show the rate of Omicron — S gene negative — and Delta — S gene positive — cases by vaccination status.
This was unvaccinated (uv), one dose ofthe vaccine up to three weeks ago (v1_0:3), one dose more than four weeks ago (v1_4+), two doses of the vaccine up to a week ago (v2_0:1), two doses of the vaccine two to nine weeks ago (v2_2:9), two doses of the vaccine 10 to 14 weeks ago (v2_10:14), two doses ofthe vaccine 15 to 19 weeks ago (v2_15:19), two doses of the vaccine 20 to 24 weeks ago (v2_20:24) and two doses of the vaccine more than 25 weeks ago (v2_25+).
The graph also includes three doses of the vaccine less than a week ago (v3_0), three doses with the third administered up to a week ago (v3_1) and three doses more than two weeks ago (v3_2+)