Boris Johnson confirms no further restrictions in Downing Street Press conference
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that no further restrictions will be put in place.
Mr Johnson held a Downing Street press conference at 5pm on Tuesday, December 4.
In it he said that Covid is no over and that "this is a moment for utmost caution".
However, he said that the country will continue to follow Plan B restrictions and asked people to work from home, wear facemasks, take regular tests and get boosted.
He was then joined by England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
LIVE: Boris Johnson confirms no new restrictions in Downing Street speech
Last updated: Tuesday, 04 January, 2022, 18:36
- Boris Johnson confirms no new restrictions in Downing Street speech
- He was joined by England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
- Around 100,000 critical workers are set to take daily Covid tests
Press conference RECAP:
- No further restrictions being introduced
- England to stick with Plan B
- Around 100,000 critical workers are set to take daily Covid tests
- The Prime Minister accepted the weeks ahead are going to be “challenging”
- PM did not rule out further restrictions in future but trying to take a “balanced approach”
- A further 218,724 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded in England and Scotland
- Latest NHS England figures show 15,044 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital on Tuesday morning
For the full story please read: Boris Johnson suggests country can ‘ride out’ Omicron Covid wave without further restrictions
Hospitals to face “substantial pressure” over next few weeks
Professor Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said hospitals across the country were likely to face “very substantial pressure over the next couple of weeks”.
“I don’t think we think that the ICU pressure is going to be like it was in previous waves but there is very substantial pressure on the emergency service part – ambulances, A&Es,” he told a Downing Street press conference.
“My colleagues in the NHS who are on the emergency side are having an extremely difficult time because they have a simultaneous wave of people coming in with Covid on top of the usual winter pressures, and you’ve got a wave of people who are off sick because they have got Covid or indeed for other reasons, but Covid is very substantially contributing to that.
“As Patrick (Vallance) said, we would expect the peak in younger people to come before the peak in older people so it may well be that the workforce problems start to decrease before we start to see any decrease in the number of people coming into hospital. Indeed, they could still very well be going up for some time.”
Sir Chris said that there was not likely to be a “single threshold” for when further action might be needed to be taken by the NHS but more “little by little” that things are rolled back, firstly in terms of routine procedures and then to more urgent but not emergency services.
“It will be patchy in different areas of the country, it will be patchy at different points along the epidemic and it won’t reach a threshold but there will certainly be some hospitals in some areas of the country which will come under very substantial pressure over the next couple of weeks,” he added.
Booster jabs should not be given every few months, Sir Patrick Vallance said
Booster jabs should not be given to everyone every few months, the UK’s chief scientific adviser has said.
Sir Patrick Vallance agreed with Professor Andrew Pollard of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that giving booster jabs to everyone periodically would be unsustainable.
Sir Patrick said: “I think Andrew Pollard is right – it would be a situation that is untenable to say that everyone is going to need to have another vaccine every three or six months.
“That is not the long-term view of where this goes to. There may be some people who will require an additional dose, but longer term I would think that as this becomes a disease which is endemic… it will be something like an annual vaccine like flu or of that order.”
He also said: “The good news is that as you get vaccinated more the immune system broadens its response so that it covers more variants.”
Boris Johnson has said it is “absolutely crazy” people are ending up in intensive care with Covid because they have not been vaccinated
Boris Johnson has said it is “absolutely crazy” that people are ending up in intensive care with Covid because they have not been vaccinated.
“How absolutely crazy it is, absolutely crazy, that there are two million slots this week for people to get vaccinated and yet the majority of people in ICU for Covid are not vaccinated – 61%,” he told a Downing Street news conference.
“It is sad but it is also a huge opportunity for us to correct it.”
Professor Sir Chris Whitty said he was “saddened” by the numbers of unvaccinated people in intensive care.
“The great majority of them are not anti-vaxxers in ordinary sense with some really weird ideas,” he said.
He said that people wanted to know if disease important enough to warrant vaccination and whether the vaccines were effective. At the same time he said there was “misinformation” on the internet “a lot of it deliberately placed” about the potential side effects of the jabs.
“In so far as I am frustrated it is simply people deliberately trying to scare away fellow citizens from something that is potentially going to be life-saving for them,” he said.
“Extraordinarily high levels of infection at the moment” in the UK - Sir Patrick Vallance
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said there was “extraordinarily high levels of infection at the moment” in the UK, and that hospital pressures will depend on how Omicron impacts on the older generation.
He told a Downing Street press briefing: “What we don’t know, and these are two things we don’t know that are key, exactly when the peak is going to occur or how big the peak is going to be.
“That is one thing that is going to determine how much disease comes on in terms of hospitalisation. And the second really important thing is that this has largely been an infection among younger people up until now, and it is moving up the age range now.
“And as it moves up the age range, you would expect to see more hospitalisations and we don’t know for sure how that’s going to manifest and what degree of disease.
“So I think with the degree of infection that we have got, we are going to see more hospitalisation for sure – 15,000 per day at the moment. That I expect to increase, and that of course will be associated with increased pressure and ultimately with some fatalities as well.
“I think what we now need to look for is when this peaks and starts to come down.”
“Trying to take balanced approach”
The question of whether further Omicron controls could be needed in England will depend on if the variant “peaks how quickly it blows through”, Boris Johnson has said.
The Prime Minister, asked about the likelihood of restrictions at a Downing Street press briefing, said: “We will monitor everything very closely – we clearly can’t rule anything out.
“What we are trying to do is take a balanced approach where we rely on people to implement Plan B carefully and to behave carefully with other people – and people are doing that, you can tell people are really responding to this and they are doing their absolute best, despite the extreme transmissibility of Omicron. What we’re also doing is massively accelerating the booster rollout and it has gone incredibly fast.
“I think, at the moment, it depends. To be absolutely frank with you, it depends on whether the virus will behave in the way it perhaps has behaved in South Africa, whether it peaks, how quickly it blows through.
“But if you ask me to guess, I would say we have a good chance of getting through the Omicron wave without the need for further restrictions, and without the need certainly for a lockdown.
“And the reason we are in that position, unlike many other countries in the world, certainly like many other countries in Europe, is that we just have such a high level now of booster protection, but that is no reason for everybody not to get more.”
Still “significant numbers” of people in hospital, Sir Chris Whitty warns
Chief medical officer for England Professor Sir Chris Whitty warned that lower rates of people being admitted to hospital did not mean there were not “significant numbers” of people in hospital with Covid.
Sir Chris said: “Lower does not mean there are not hospitalisations, there are significant numbers.
“Just to give some kind of feel for this, at the moment there are just over 15,000 people in hospital in England, the data for the UK is slightly later in time.
“If we went back to mid-December when we were still with the Delta wave the numbers were between 6,000 and 6,500. A very substantial increase.
“People are not admitted to hospital in winter unless they have a clear need for hospitalisation.”
The CMO added the data was “relatively close to the initial peak” of hospital admissions in last January, of 18,000 people.
Booster doses provide 88% of “overall protection against being hospitalised”
Booster doses provide 88% of “overall protection against being hospitalised”, England’s chief medical officer has said.
Professor Sir Chris Whitty said: “We now have confidence that the booster provides around 88% overall protection against being hospitalised and it is likely to be even greater than that for severe disease and mortality.”
Sir Chris also urged anyone how had not yet received a booster to come forward.
He said: “Anybody who has not been boosted who is eligible really should do so. I think the idea that this is a mild disease, as opposed to less likely to be hospitalised, is easily demonstrated to be incorrect based on these data.”
He was referring to the high numbers of older people still being sent to hospital, because of the Omicron variant’s transmissibility.
People “needlessly” dying because they haven’t been vaccinated, PM says
Boris Johnson has said people are dying “needlessly” because they have not been properly vaccinated against Covid-19.
“There are still almost nine million people eligible, who haven’t had their booster,” he told a Downing Street news conference.
“It’s absolutely heart-breaking that as many as 90% of those in intensive care with Covid have not had their booster, and over 60% of those in intensive care, who have Covid, have not had any vaccination at all.
“People are dying needlessly because they haven’t had their jabs, they haven’t had that booster.”
PM will not “rule anything out” but says “good chance” of no need for further restrictions
Mr Johnson said: “We will monitor.
“We clearly can’t rule anything out.
“We are trying to take a balanced approach.”
He added: “What we are also doing is massively accelerating the booster roll out.
“At the moment it depends.
“To be absolutely frank, it depends whether the virus will behave the way it has in South Africa.
“I would say we have a good chance of getting through Omicron without the need for further restrictions or lockdown”