Home » UK Covid Live: Boris Johnson Gives Press Conference As Eight New Omicron Cases Reported In England

UK Covid Live: Boris Johnson Gives Press Conference As Eight New Omicron Cases Reported In England

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16:14

Sajid Javid says the UK was the first country in the western world to authorise a vaccine for Covid.

And the UK has delivered more booster jabs than any country apart from the US and China.

He thanks all health staff who have made this a success.

They have weakened the link between cases and hospitalisations and deaths, he says.

He says the booster dose provides a much higher response than the primary course.

Omicron poses a very high global risk, the WHO has said. He says there have now been 13 confirmed cases in England and nine in Scotland.

The strategy to “buy the time we need to assess this new variant”.

He says the latest developments have been worrying for some people. They have brought back memories of the strain of last winter. But we have one huge advantage we did not have then – the vaccination programme.

This is a national mission, he says. If we want to have the best chance of a Christmas with our loved ones, we should get protected, he says.

16:09

Johnson says people should avoid trying to book a booster until their age group gets its turn.

Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar)

NHS will be helped with booster roll-out by 400 troops and volunteers, PM reveals.

He says that vaccine centres will “pop up like Christmas trees” to get boosters done (over 50 mass-vaxx centres were shut down in Spring).

November 30, 2021

He says he will be getting his own booster on Thursday.

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16:08

Johnson says all adults to be offered booster vaccine by end of January

Boris Johnson is speaking now at his press conference.

He starts by saying all adults will be offered a booster vaccine by the end of January.

Beth Rigby (@BethRigby)

NEW: Johnson booster target: everybody eligible to be offered a booster by the end of Jan, working down age groups five years at a time. PM says that’s over 14m more jabs

November 30, 2021

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16:06

MPs pass new Covid face mask rules for England by 434 votes to 23

The government has won the vote on passing the new regulations on face coverings by 434 votes to 23 – a majority of 411.

16:01

Boris Johnson’s press conference

The Boris Johnson press conference is about to start. He will be appearing with Sajid Javid, the health secretary, and Amanda Pritchard, chief executive officer for NHS England.

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15:59

Eight more Omicron cases confirmed in England

Eight more cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been detected in England, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said.

There are in addition to the previous five confirmed cases of the Sars-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529. The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 13.

The new cases include two in Barnet, one in Haringey, one in Liverpool, one in Norfolk, one in Sutton, one in Camden, and one in Westminster.

The individuals that have tested positive and their contacts are all isolating, health officials said. Work is under way to identify any links to travel to Southern Africa.

The UKHSA has now identified cases in the East Midlands, East of England, London and North West. UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.

Nine cases have also been identified in Scotland, with five cases in the Lanarkshire area and four in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, bringing the UK total to 22.

Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of UKHSA, said: “It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focused contact tracing. That’s why it’s critical that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.”

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15:52

In the Commons Maggie Throup, the health minister, has just wound up the debate. She ended with a slightly firmer rebuke to Dr Jenny Harries than she managed at the start of the debate. (See 1.11pm.) She said it was “government that sets policy and guidance” and that that was what the public should follow.

MPs are now voting on the first set of regulations, relating to face coverings. There was very loud cheering “no” cheering from Tory MPs opposed to the measure when Dame Eleanor Laing, the deputy Speaker, called the division.

15:38

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15:34

Bob Seely (Con) has just finished his speech in the Commons. Most of it was devoted to claims that Prof Neil Ferguson, the Imperial College epidemiologist whose modelling was influential in persuading Boris Johnson to order the first lockdown, was unreliable.

15:21

Tory Steve Baker urges MPs to vote against latest Covid rules, saying they are ‘path to hell’

Baker says MPs face “a fundamental choice between heading towards heaven and heading towards hell”. The government is taking “the path to hell”, he claims. He says he is going to vote against all the measures, because he want to take the path towards heaven. He says he hopes MPs will follow him.

15:15

Back in the Commons Steve Baker (Con), deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group, is speaking now. He says the government seems to be working on the principle that you cannot be too careful. But you can be too careful, he says.

He says if the government continues to over-react when there is a threat, whole sectors, like air travel and hospitality and tourism, will become uninvestable, he says.

15:11

These are from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak)

Hearing Social Care White Paper likely to emerge after #pmqs tmrw – likely to be about how extra 1.7bn will be divvied up, with various pilots of things that might work in future, eg different kinds of housing, but not a big bang reform to ‘fix’ the system..

November 30, 2021

Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak)

Suggestion paper might have been delayed because of Omicron, but sources hopeful it will still go ahead

November 30, 2021

15:09

In the Commons Mark Harper, chair of the lockdown-sceptic Tory Covid Recovery Group, is speaking. Echoing what Steve Brine said earlier, he says the regulations are not clear enough about what counts as a suspected case of Omicron. Close contacts of suspected cases will have to isolate for up to 10 days.

Harper is the fourth Conservative backbencher in a row to speak. That probably means there are no more opposition MPs who want to speak. Government supporters are notably absent from this debate too, and so the debate has been dominated by Tories critical of the government.

Craig Mackinlay spoke before Harper. He said he did not understand why the rules required someone to put on a mask to go into a shop – perhaps for a very brief period of time – to buy a bottle of alcohol, when they could subsequently go to a party with a large number of people where masks would not be required.

And, before Mackinlay, Huw Merriman told MPs that he was not against what the regulations were trying to achieve in principle. But they were badly drafted, he said.

15:03

All nine Scottish Omicron cases linked to same ‘private event’, Sturgeon tells MSPs

All nine cases of the Omicron variant in Scotland link to a “single private event” on 20 November, Nicola Sturgeon has told the Holyrood parliament in her weekly Covid update.

Five cases on the new variant in Lanarkshire and four in Greater Glasgow and Clyde health boards have so far been identified.

She added that none of the people who have tested positive have so far required hospital care and that none has recent travel history to, or known links with, others who have travelled to the countries in Southern Africa where the variant was originally detected.

Sturgeon told MSPs that all nine were tested on and around 23 November.

A surveillance look back exercise had identified that the PCR test results in these cases showed what is called the S-gene dropout – this is not conclusive evidence of the Omicron variant, but indicative of it. However, whole genome sequencing of these positive samples has now identified that they are indeed the Omicron variant.

Sturgeon also told MSPs that her government did not plan to introduce new restrictions at this stage, pointing out that “some protections that the UK government has announced in recent days in relation to England – for example a requirement to wear face coverings in some settings – are already in place, and in fact more extensive, here in Scotland”.

She said that instead the Scottish government was “asking people to significantly step up and increase compliance with existing protections – such as face coverings, hygiene, home working, ventilation, vaccination and regular testing”.

She added that her government’s view remained that travel rules should be tightened further on a four-nations basis.

Yesterday the first minister of Wales and I suggested to the prime minister that, until we know more about Omicron, people arriving in the UK from overseas should be asked to self-isolate for eight days and take a PCR test on day eight after their arrival, as well as on day two.

Nicola Sturgeon. Photograph: Reuters

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14:55

Welsh health minister urges people to ‘take seriously’ risk of mixing at Christmas

At her news conference in Cardiff, Eluned Morgan, the Welsh government’s health minister, said people should “take seriously” the threat of mixing at Christmas.

Aligning firmly with Jenny Harries (see 9.31am) rather than Boris Johnson (see 1.02pm), Morgan said:

It’s too early to say yet what the situation is likely to be as we enter the Christmas period, but I would urge people to act with caution over the Christmas period. And to take seriously the situation, and the threat, of mixing with other people indoors during this time.

She also said she expected Omicron to turn up in Wales. “Omicron has not yet arrived in Wales, but it’s simply a question of time before it does,” she said.

Asked if the government would consider a type of lockdown or firebreak should Omicron begin to spread rapidly, Morgan said it was “too early to say”. But she said the government had a responsibility to keep the country open.

Eluned Morgan. Photograph: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans/Rex/Shutterstock

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