Boris Johnson announcement: Plans being made for ‘two-week lockdown' despite PM vowing not to shut country down

IT COULD be a bad start to the New Year as officials have been considering a two-week circuit-breaker, which would include a ban on meeting friends and family indoors.

Despite this, Boris Johnson vowed last night that he will not shut the country down amid claims plans have been drawn up for a lockdown after Christmas.

The PM told the nation: "We are not closing things down."

However, The Times has reported that ministers are preparing draft plans that will prevent Brits meeting others indoors except for work purposes.

Pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor service only if the scheme is given the green light.

Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Milica Cosic

    News you may have missed

    • Covid boosters slash the risk of falling ill with severe Omicron by 86 per cent, according to reports
    • An emergency Cobra meeting will take place this weekend as cases surge to record levels
    • Thousands of Brits have cancelled holiday breaks to Spain this Christmas
    • Christmas deliveries could be cancelled and shops may have to close early ahead of December 25
    • A GP has revealed symptoms of the strain no parent should ignore

    Gloomy figures

    Last night's gloomy claims of further restrictions come amid a huge surge of cases driven by Omicron.

    A record 93,000 Brits were newly-infected with coronavirus on Friday.

    Tens of thousands of Brits will be isolating this Christmas as a result of the spike.

    Meanwhile, all close contacts of anyone specifically infected with Omicron must also isolate for 10 days – even if they're fully-vaccinated or under 18.

    Mr Johnson says a "considerable wave" of cases is sweeping in – but stood firm on tougher rules this side of Christmas.

    “I’ve said already that people should be cautious, but what we have also said is that people should decide what they want to do. It is a matter for their personal choice," he said.

    “We are not closing things down but we do think people need to be cautious.”

    Plans drawn up for ‘two-week lockdown'

    BORIS Johnson last night vowed he will not shut the country down amid claims plans have been drawn up for a lockdown after Christmas.

    Officials have been mulling proposals for a two-week circuit-breaker, which would include a ban on meeting friends and family indoors.

    But he told the nation: "We are not closing things down."

    The Times reports that ministers are preparing draft plans that will prevent Brits meeting others indoors except for work purposes.

    • Milica Cosic

      Emergency Cobra meeting to be held over weekend

      AN EMERGENCY Cobra meeting will be held this weekend as the Omicron crisis gripping Britain deepens.

      Senior ministers from all four countries of the UK will gather to discuss a common response to the threat from the new variant. It will be the second emergency get-together in the space of days with alarm over the spread of the mutant strain increasing.

      There have been three consecutive days of record cases with new UK infections yesterday toping 90,000. The meeting was announced after Boris Johnson held crisis talks with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon today.

      A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister and the First Minister agreed on the importance of close collaboration for the benefit of citizens across the UK.

      “They discussed the shared challenges including the economic disruption caused by Covid and will continue to work together. The Prime Minister confirmed UK Government will be convening a Cobra meeting over the weekend with counterparts from the devolved administrations to continue discussions.”

    • Milica Cosic

      Covid cases hit ANOTHER record high with 93k infected 

      Yesterday's, Covid cases have hit another record high for the third day running, with 93,000 infections reported by the Government.

      The Omicron variant is behind the surge – it is now dominant in England and Scotland, officials announced today.

      Confirmed cases of the super infectious strain across the UK have jumped up by a third on Thursday.

    • Louis Allwood

      How often should I do a lateral flow test?

      New rules mean that from December 14, anyone who has been in contact with someone who tests positive for Omicron must take a LFT for seven days – so long as they aren't showing signs of symptoms.

      If you develop symptoms, book a PCR test.

      Brits have once again been encouraged to test themselves twice a week, or before going to any events or large gatherings, to avoid the spread.

      However, a lateral flow test might not be enough to detect a potential infection, so the NHS recommends booking a PCR test if any symptoms occur.

      Unvaccinated adults must still self-isolate for 10 days if they have contact with anyone who tests positive for any Covid variant.

    • Louis Allwood

      Lateral flow tests can turn positive within the space of days

      The at-home tests can reveal if you are carrying Covid within 30 minutes with a high degree of reliability.

      But while your test may show a negative result, a mere hours later it could be positive, said Billy Quilty, an infectious disease epidemiologist at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

      It shows that lateral flow tests should be taken just before you go out and no sooner.

      Even hours before may be too early, Mr Quilty warned.

      He posted an image of four lateral flow tests he had taken on Twitter.

      Two tests were taken in the morning and at lunch time, which were both negative. 

      But by the same evening, there was a very faint positive result.

      The next morning it was clearly positive – showing how rapidly the tests can produce a different result.

    • Louis Allwood

      My son nearly died from Covid side-effect

      Cooper Hayton tested positive for coronavirus, he luckily suffered a symptom-free infection.

      But weeks later the 11-year-old became critically ill from a rare side effect of the virus seen in children.

      Mum Pippa Crook explained that it was four weeks after Copper tested positive for Covid that he developed an uncontrollable fever.

      The 38-year-old said her son also experienced a loss of appetite, became lethargic and complained of pain below his left rib, as well as stomach pains.

      She took him to the GP who suspected Cooper had sepsis and called an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

      But medics at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary soon established he'd developed Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

      The rare condition occurs in less than 0.5 per cent of children who have had Covid-19 and only 1 to 5 per 100,000 children infected require hospital admission from the condition.

    • Louis Allwood

      These are the Omicron symptoms no parent should ever ignore

      The three main symptoms of coronavirus outlined by the NHS are a new persistent cough, a high temperature and a loss of taste and smell.

      If you have any of these symptoms you should take a test immediately in order to avoid spreading the virus.

      Speaking to The Sun, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of  Patientaccess.com said the reason we haven’t vaccinated all kids is because they get mild disease and there is no evidence that that is any different with Omicron.

      She explained that it’s important parents recognise that with kids and with them getting ill that they shouldn't be too worried.

      "It’s much less likely to happen to kids than to happen to you.The big issue with kids is that unfortunately they have a habit of cuddling.

      "Data that’s just come out of South Africa suggest that the vast majority don’t end up in hospital.

      "They have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat – stuffy nose, headache, fever and it goes away in three days."

    • Louis Allwood

      Brits enjoy some festive fun

      Despite the Chief Medical Officer calling for limits on meeting friends, sozzled revellers decided a night out on the town was exactly what the doctor ordered.

      Streets were quiet around the UK but some partygoers in the North of England went out in style, despite concerns of Omicron affecting them this Christmas.

      Cheery revellers were snapped in Newcastle and Leeds, getting into the festive spirit with Santa Claus costumes and Christmas hats.

      With a new high of 88,376 daily infections yesterday, many punters were asked to choose between partying or keeping loved ones safe from Omicron.

    • Louis Allwood

      Extra Covid rules expected AFTER Christmas Day

      The PM will wait to decide whether or not to impose more Covid restrictions until after Christmas, his top doc has suggested.

      Prof Chris Whitty said it would take a few weeks to determine how successful boosters were in tackling the spread of Omicron.

      It came as lockdown-fearing Brits were today warned to get their boosters – or lose their freedoms.

      Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden said the Government has "put its chips on the vaccine programme" rather than impose fresh measures to beat Omicron.

      And he was "confident" that if people get their third jab then no new restrictions will be needed over Christmas.

    • Louis Allwood

      First patients get ‘game-changing’ Covid pills (Continued…)

      But the final results of the study, published yesterday, were "not as good" as the early results, said Prof Stephen Evans, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

      Prof Evans said: “The overall evidence of efficacy may be reasonably clear, but it does seem likely that the interim results overestimated that efficacy.

      "While this could be a useful drug, it is not a panacea for where vaccination does not occur.

      "The trial was conducted in situations where the Omicron variant was not circulating so results for that variant are inevitably speculative.”

    • Louis Allwood

      First patients get ‘game-changing’ Covid pills

      The first patients in the UK are set to get a “game-changing” Covid pill they can take at home.

      The drug molnupiravir will be rolled out to homes across the nation in a major trial.

      Some 10,000 people will receive it within days of testing positive with the virus, as Omicron cases surge.

      The drug, also known as Lagevrio, made by the US company Merck and Ridgeback, is designed to reduce the risk of hospital treatment in people deemed vulnerable to Covid.

      The UK already bought 480,000 courses of the treatment when early results of a clinical trial showed it reduced hospitalisations and deaths in high-risk patients by around 30 per cent.

      Last month, the UK became the first country in the world to license its use – a move described as a “game-changer” by the Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

    • Louis Allwood

      When should I see a doctor?

      A high temperature in itself doesn't mean you need to see a doctor, and it usually subsides over three or four days.

      Make sure you get plenty of fluids (and look out for signs of dehydration), rest at home and eat some food if you have the appetite. The same goes for children.

      However, there are some indications things may be a bit more serious.

      In adults, you should see a GP if you have severe thirst, have dark or very little urine, you are light-headed or feel weak, you have severe muscle cramps or you have recently been abroad.

      Children should be seen by a doctor if there are other symptoms such as a rash.

      Warning signs also include that they won't eat, they are not themselves or are dehydrated (dry nappies or sunken eyes), or paracetamol does not help.

      Babies under three months should always be seen by a doctor, as well as those under six months with a temperature of 39C (102.2F) or higher.

    • Louis Allwood

      What causes a high temperature?

      A fever is the body's response to a number of illnesses, including flu, the coronavirus, tonsilitis, UTIs, a stomach bug, heat exhaustion, or a vaccine, which mimics a virus.

      Cases of RSV (a common cold) and norovirus are also higher than this time of year.

      All three cause a high temperature.

    • Louis Allwood

      What is a high temperature for an adult and child?

      A high temperature – also called a fever – is typically considered to be 38C (100.4F) or over.

      According to the NHS, the standard body temperature in adults is 37C (98.6F).

      However this amount can fluctuate slightly depending on the person’s age, the time of day and the current activity.

      It is generally accepted that 36.1C (97F) to 37.2C (99F) is a normal range for body temperature.

      But the NHS says if you feel hot or shivery, you may have a high temperature even if a thermometer says your temperature is below 38C (100.4F).

    • Louis Allwood

      Secondary school kids can come back later than planned

      Students will be asked to get two tests before going back to classrooms in another bid to stop the new omicron variant from ripping through schools.

      Already parents have been pulling kids out of class and sending them home early in a bid to try and save their Christmas.

      And schools are worried that they might have to revert to online learning so are asking kids to make sure they have everything at home before they break up for the holidays.

      Education minister Alex Burghart told MPs such an approach would enable schools to put in place measures to test pupils for Covid on their return from their break.

      He said testing, vaccination, ventilation and hygiene "are the ways in which we will absolutely back schools to make sure that in-classroom teaching can continue".

    • Louis Allwood

      A MILLION daily Covid jabs to be given out this weekend

      Official counts show 745,143 people had their third dose, as records tumbled for a second day in a row.

      The total is up nearly 90,000 on the previous day’s high as the public enthusiastically responded to calls to “keep giving Omicron both barrels" by getting boosted.

      Once first and second shots were counted, the NHS put 812,044 Covid vaccines in arms on Wednesday, raising hopes the million mark will be imminently breached.

      A Government source said: “It’s looking good, as long as the public keep on coming forward.

      “The aim is to deliver one million jabs a day and we’ve been steadily upping the number of boosters in arms throughout the week.

      “Saturday is always our best day for vaccinations. If we can keep on the same course then it’s possible we can top the million mark this weekend.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Nightclubs to close and social distancing enforced at work in Wales

      The Welsh "two-phase plan" to beat the Covid variant will see two-metre social distancing in businesses from December 27.

      Nightclubs will be closed under the new rules, although the Welsh Government has announced a £60million fund to support any businesses affected by the restrictions.

      The move comes despite warnings from businesses owners that more restrictions will further damage the economy and destroy the hospitality industry during the crucial festive period.

      From Dec 27, measures including one-way systems and physical barriers will be introduced in Welsh workplaces to protect customers and staff.

      Regulations will also be changed to include a requirement to work from home wherever possible.

      Officials are also urging people to reduce contact with others over the coming days, especially if Christmas plans include seeing older or more vulnerable people.

    • Louis Allwood

      2 Million could be self-isolating on Christmas day

      Around two million people could be self-isolating by Christmas Day if infection rates continue.

      Fifteen people are in hospital with the variant, but Prof Whitty warned the true figure will be much bigger.

      Tories yesterday accused the Chief Medical Officer of forcing England into an “effective lockdown”.

      Former minister Steve Brine said in the Commons: “There was no new policy announced then Professor Whitty answered a question from the BBC and at a stroke changed Government policy and put this country, certainly hospitality… into effective lockdown.” 

    • Louis Allwood

      Brits face huge choice

      Pubs and restaurants are closing after punters were asked to choose between partying or keeping loved ones safe from Omicron.

      Last night’s Premier League game between Leicester and Spurs was postponed along with five more over the weekend.

      A new high of 88,376 daily infections was recorded yesterday — but the Government said it will hit its target of a million booster jabs a day by the weekend.

      The PM insisted there are no plans for further restrictions before the holiday — despite the Omicron wave.

      Yet on Wednesday gloomy Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty called for limits on meeting friends. 

    • Joseph Gamp

      Spain holidays are OVER as thousands of Brits cancel their breaks

      THOUSANDS of Brits have cancelled their holidays to popular Spanish hotspots due to Covid travel rules.

      Benidorm, Murcia and the Canary Islands have been hit with hotel cancellations as Brits make last-minute holiday changes.

      The destinations are usually popular with Brits hoping to spend Christmas in the sun, but Covid travel rules in both Spain and the UK make it difficult for some families to get away.

      To enter Spain, all travellers aged 12 and over must be fully vaccinated against Covid, with their second dose at least two weeks prior to arrival.

      Teens in the UK may not have had the opportunity to get their second vaccine due to the country's vaccine schedule.

      So families with kids under 18 might not meet the requirements to enter the country.

      Additionally, all travellers returning to the UK must take a pre-departure test, which can cost as much as £100pp – boosting the price of a holiday for a family of four by £400.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Graph: Omicron's dramatic speed compared to other variants

      The UKHSA say that the tests are able to detect the variant, after reports from South Africa the home-kits were missing it.

      Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive said today: “Our data shows that LFD tests are similarly able to detect COVID-19 in individuals who have been exposed to Omicron as in those exposed to previous variants.

      "This is very encouraging. As we all work to limit the high levels of transmission of this variant over the Christmas period, we are urging people to test regularly, particularly before attending social gatherings.

      “As always, the booster vaccine remains the best protection against infection. Please come forward to receive your booster as soon as possible.”

      A report from UKHSA today also reveals that 18 per cent of people infected with Omicron give it to someone else in their home, compared to 10 per cent of people with Delta.

      The dramatic speed of Omicron's spread compared to other variants is visible in this UKHSA graph

    • Joseph Gamp

      UK records 111 new Covid deaths

      Another 111 tragic Covid deaths were also added onto the coronavirus dashboard today, with daily fatalities remaining stable.

      But hospitalisations are on the rise, with the week's total of 6,056 eight per cent higher than last week.

      Across the UK, 7,611 people are in hospital with the virus, a rise of two per cent in a week.

      But in London, inpatients have jumped by 25 per cent in one week, with the capital treating 1,534 Covid patients.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Want to help? Join the The Sun's Jabs Army

      As the Omicron wave grows, more data proves the booster vaccine is the best protection against both infection and severe disease.

      The Sun is urging readers to sign up to our life saving Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.

      A new study today has shown that a top-up dose WILL protect against Omicron severe disease, even if to a slightly lower efficacy than against previous strains.

      After a booster, protection against severe disease and therefore hospitalisation from Omicron is 80 per cent, Imperial College London has estimated.

      It bolsters previous work from the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) that says three doses are 75 per cent protective against symptomatic infection.

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