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PM NOT expected to impose Covid rules next week as national jabs rollout SLOWS Omicron

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THE Prime Minister is NOT expected to impose further restrictions when Plan B is reviewed next week, The Sun has been told.

Whitehall sources say the PM is set to “maintain the status quo” of indoor mask-wearing, working from home advice and vaccine passports on Wednesday.

But in a New Year boost he’s likely to hold off announcing dreaded measures like the Rule of Six or return to outdoor pints.

Ministers are being driven by encouraging evidence showing Omicron is up to 70 per cent milder than Delta and appears vulnerable to booster jabs.

It comes as a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said – and The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms.

And new data has revealed that coronavirus infections are slowing, amid a spread in Omicron cases in older age groups. But experts have warned that there has been a worrying rise in cases in Brits aged 55-75, which could put pressure on the NHS.

Omicron is now responsible for 90 per cent of cases in the UK and has taken over from the Delta variant.

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

  • Just ‘a whiff of infected breath’ is all is takes to catch Omicron

    JUST a ‘whiff of infected breath’ is all that it takes to catch Omicron, an expert has warned today.

    Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) today said that Brits are lucky that coronavirus wasn’t this infectious when cases started to climb at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

    He told BBC Breakfast: “Omicron is so infectious.

    “We’re lucky really that it wasn’t this infectious when it first moved into human-to-human transmission.

    “We’ve had several iterations of this virus going through different stages of its evolution.

    “It has ended up being so infectious that it almost needs just a whiff of infected breath and you could get infected.

    “We’re in a relatively good position in countries like the UK but I think you have to remember that in many parts of the world the vaccination rates are only about five per cent, and they’re being exposed to this very infectious virus with very little protection.”

  • The Sun’s jab army

    The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

    Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is more promising data which reinforces just how important vaccines are. They save lives and prevent serious illness.”

  • UK Omicron cases on New Year’s Eve 

    CASES of Omicron in the UK have almost hit 250,000 as the year comes to a close.

    It is the last daily update of variant cases, as it has now become dominant in the country.

    In the past 24 hours 17,114 new infections have been logged – taking the total to 246,780.

    The variant has spread throughout the UK in just over a month, but boosters have been proven to work to stop serious illness.

  • Omicron symptoms you should look out for

    There are a number of different symptoms you might have, including some you might not expect, such as nausea.

    While those infected with the Omicron variant might experience the traditional symptoms from the previous strains there are a few more symptoms you might not know.

    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Sore throat
    • Runny nose
    • Pink eye or conjunctivitis
    • Fever
    • Hair loss

    Read more here.

  • More than two million people hit with Covid in week 

    MORE than two million people were hit with Covid in the week up to Christmas, new data has revealed.

    It’s the highest number of people to have the bug since 2020 and around one in 25 people in England are currently infected with the virus.

    Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released this afternoon revealed that the highest rate of infections has been seen in London.

    It’s thought that around one in 15 people in the capital are infected with the bug.

    The lowest rate is in the North East, where one in 45 people tested positive.

  • ALL Brits now offered booster 

    ALL Brits have now been offered the chance to book in for their Omicron-beating Covid booster.

    The NHS and Government have hit the ambitious target to send out all invites by New Year’s Eve.

    In just one month everyone eligible for a top up shot – vital to gain protection from the variant – has been contacted.

    More than 28.1 million people in England – more than 7 in 10 of eligible adults – have now had their booster.

    This includes around 90 per cent of those aged 50 and over who are eligible.

  • Hundreds of kids to return to home learning in Wales

    KIDS in Wales will be forced to have lessons online again if Omicron causes a staffing crisis, Mark Drakeford has warned.

    The gloomy First Minister said not all schools would be able to welcome pupils back in January because of likely teacher absences.

    Mr Drakeford is already fearing the worst and today warned that some kids would be learning at home after Christmas.

    He told WalesOnline: “We recognise that there will be some schools where, because Omicron is so transmissible, there will be staff who will be ill so it won’t be possible for every child to be in the classroom and therefore that a return for some students for a shorter period of time as possible to online learning may have to be there as well.”

    The warning is a hammer blow to parents who’ll be forced to arrange last-minute child care – and kids who’ve already forgone hours of in-person teaching.

  • How does the Covid pill work?

    Paxlovid has been developed by Pfizer and works by stopping the protease that allows the virus to replicate.

    This in turn stops it from multiplying and helps the body get over infection.

    Patients having the treatment will be given two tablets that are taken together, twice a day for five days.

    The treatment has been tested extensively and in clinical trials, experts found that in high-risk adults with symptomatic Covid-19 infection, a five day treatment course of Paxlovid reduced the risk of Covid-19 related hospitalisation and death within 28 days by 89 per cent.

    This is in comparison to a placebo group when treatment was started within three days of the onset of Covid-19 symptoms.

  • New Covid at-home pills that slash risk of hospitalisation

    A NEW pill that patients with Covid can take at home will be rolled out on the NHS, regulators have announced today.

    The treatment, called Paxlovid (PF-07321332 and ritonavir) has today been approved by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

    The drug has been proven to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate Covid-19 infection who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease.

    The approval of the drug adds to the arsenal of vaccines that the UK has deployed.

  • ‘Delighted to have hit our target’

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our world-leading vaccination programme has meant tens of millions of people have been able to see their loved ones this Christmas knowing they have the protection of the booster.

    “I am delighted to confirm we have hit our target of offering a Covid-19 booster to all adults by the New Year.

    “I am incredibly proud of the work the NHS has done to accelerate the programme and offer my thanks to the frontline staff, volunteers, Armed Forces and British public who have made it possible for us to meet this commitment.”

  • Vaccine effectiveness & Omicron

    Expert studies have shown that the risk of severe illness from Covid-19 is reduced by 90 percent or more among people who are fully vaccinated.

    While there are breakthrough cases of Covid among people who are vaccinated, they are rare.

    In the event of a breakthrough case, victims are highly unlikely to be hospitalized with severe or deadly symptoms from the virus.

    Health officials have advised that the Omicron variant is more infectious and could lead to further breakthrough cases. Yet the spread can be offset by all vaccinated Americans receiving a booster shot.

    Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant.

    With other variants, like Delta, vaccines have remained effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.

    Studies have also shown that side effects from the vaccine are extremely rare.

    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Fears schools may suffer delayed return

    Experts fear that schools could face delayed returns in January if Boris Johnson doesn’t slash Covid isolation down to five days to bring teachers back to their desks.

    Influential Chair of the Education Select Committee Robert Halfon said: “All the energies of the Department of Education and Boris should be about keeping kids in school.

    “If by reducing the days in isolation as America’s done, it makes a difference and stops school closing then it should be the number one priority.

    “We keep talking about protecting the NHS, which I completely agree with, but what about protecting our children’s futures as well?

    “If the catch up programmes are going to work the last thing we need is to send kids home again.”

  • Two NEW Omicron symptoms you haven’t heard about

    The Covid Omicron variant is continuing to spread – with symptoms that you might have not expected.

    According to experts, the new variant is showing symptoms of vomiting and loss of appetite – symptoms that didn’t appear with the Delta variant.

    Tim Spector, a professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College in London, recently told the Daily Express in the UK that nausea has been listed by many Omicron patients.

    “Quite a few of them had nausea, slight temperature, sore throats, and headaches,” said Spector.

    The symptoms, which have been less severe than previous strains, include fatigue, muscle aches, and scratchy throat. The loss of taste and smell is less common in this newer strain.

  • School staffing levels will be ‘very challenging’

    The PM has been told to do all he can so that students don’t miss any more vital face-to-face learning due to staff isolating at home.

    Headteachers have already warned staffing levels will be “very challenging” when the new term starts – meaning at-home learning could make a return for thousands of kids.

    Any extension to schools’ Christmas breaks would be a nightmare for parents.

    Working mums and dads could be left with no choice but to pay out for childcare, work from home or even take time off all together.

    Some primary and secondary schools have already sent kids home armed with textbooks and laptops just in case poor staffing levels force them into a self-prescribed shutdown.

    Any disruption to teaching is likely until at least Easter – and retired teachers are being urged to return to work to help fill in.

  • Covid-19 news you may have missed

  • Boris NOT Expected to announce new restrictions next week

    BORIS Johnson is NOT expected to impose further restrictions when Plan B is reviewed next week, The Sun has been told.

    Whitehall sources say the PM is set to “maintain the status quo” of indoor mask-wearing, working from home advice and vaccine passports on Wednesday.

    But in a New Year boost he’s likely to hold off announcing dreaded measures like the Rule of Six or return to outdoor pints.

    Ministers are buoyed by encouraging evidence showing Omicron is up to 70 per cent milder than Delta and appears vulnerable to booster jabs.

    Fresh figures today also showed that 33 per cent of hospital Covid cases were admitted for other reasons, suggesting they are not seriously ill with the virus.

    The PM today said the turbo-charged jabs rollout had put Britain on an “incomparably better” footing to fight Covid than last year.

    Yet key Omicron data is pouring in all the time and insiders stressed they are watching the latest stats like hawks ahead of the crunch decision.

    ac graph omicron cases uk rise dec 30

  • Vital work of our wonderful Sun Jab’s Army

    The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    Local press are reporting that the Israeli health Ministry is studying the results to work out if the two infections could cause a more serious illness.

    Experts in Israel are claiming other patients have already contract the two viruses but have not been diagnosed.

  • Woman catches Covid & influenza at the SAME TIME in rare mix dubbed ‘Flurona’

    A WOMAN has caught Covid and influenza at the same time in an incredibly rare mixture dubbed “Flurona”.

    The case – which was detected at an Israeli hospital – showed the woman had a presence of both the flu and Covid-19 pathogens.

    The young Israeli – who is pregnant and unvaccinated – presented mild symptoms when she was tested at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva.

    A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

    Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

    NINTCHDBPICT000702760427

  • NHS staff absences lead to calls for Government Cobra meetings

    Rising NHS staff absence figures have led to political calls for an emergency Government Cobra meeting to be convened by the Prime Minister.

    Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said: “Today’s figures confirm the worst: hospital and ambulance services are stretched to breaking point under the weight of devastating Covid staff absences, just as the Government was warned.

    “The failure of ministers to act on these warnings means that hospitals are now creating surge hubs without having the staff to man them, whilst the Government is relying on a testing regime to control the virus without any tests.

    “It really is now or never for the Government to get a handle on a crisis that is quickly spiralling beyond their control.

    “Boris Johnson must call a Cobra meeting without delay to thrash out a comprehensive rescue plan.

    “People will be rightly angry with Johnson’s Government if they try to access urgent care or advice, only to be turned away or face waiting hours for an ambulance.

    “Our NHS is in desperate need of support. The Government must give this crisis the attention it deserves.”

  • UK revellers get the party started early for a NYE knees up

    NEW Year’s Eve revellers have started the party early this year as they hit the pubs to ring in 2022.

    Brits have been spotted enjoying pints, set for a big night on the town to mark the beginning of the New Year.

    Party-goers have been pictured in Leicester Square and in Soho this afternoon, getting ready for the big night.

    Groups of Scots have been flooding the country after Nicola Sturgeon cancelled Hogmanay celebrations when she plunged the country into tight Covid restrictions.

    The First Minister slapped the country with the toughest measures in months just days before Christmas – urging Scots to slash their social contact over the festive period.

    The raft of new restrictions came into force on Boxing Day and limited the size of live events and both indoor and outdoor gatherings.

    NINTCHDBPICT000702775941

  • Eight Spurs players test positive for Covid-19

    Eight Tottenham Hotspur players have tested positive for COVID-19, leaving only 10 players available ahead of the club’s final Europa Conference League group match at home to France’s Stade Rennais, manager Antonio Conte said on Wednesday.

    It was not immediately clear if Thursday’s game would go ahead.

    “Eight players and five members of staff (have tested positive), but the problem is that every day we’re having people with COVID-19,” Conte told reporters.

    “People that yesterday weren’t positive and today are, and we’re continuing to have contact with (them). It’s a serious problem.

    “We had 11 players available for the match and by the end of the training session today one of the players who would start tomorrow is now positive. It’s scary. We’re all having contact.”

  • France records highest ever number of daily Covid infections

    France reported 232,200 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest-ever recorded total, as the country prepared for subdued New Year celebrations, with many fireworks events cancelled and people told to mask up.

    New infections over the last 24 hours were above the 200,000 limit for the third day running.

    The previous record of 208,099 was set on Wednesday.

  • The Sun’s Jabs Army: Helping to get vital boosters in arms

    The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    The PM is keeping an especially close eye on hospitalisations amid warnings the NHS is coming under strain.

    Across the UK, there were 1,915 Covid-19 hospital admissions on December 27, up 62 per cent week on week and the highest number since February 8

  • NHS chiefs say Covid restrictions are not yet needed 

    NHS leaders have been reassured that despite a rise in hospital admissions across the UK, the threshold for new rules has not been crossed.

    Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, told the BBC: “We know that the government has set a high threshold on introducing extra new restrictions.

    “So on that basis, trust leaders can see why the government’s arguing that in the absence of a surge of seriously ill patients coming into hospital, that threshold hasn’t yet been crossed.

    “But we still don’t know if the surge will come and indeed we’re exactly talking about the preparations that we’re making or that surge right now.

    “So in terms of restrictions, I think we’re in exactly the same place we’ve been in for the last fortnight, which is the government needs to be ready to introduce tighter restrictions at real speed should they be needed.”

  • A big boost for Britain

    More than 58 per cent of the population aged 12 and above have so far had their third dose.

    Downing St also said that all eligible adults have now had the chance to get a booster.

    Mr Johnson suggested unvaxxed Brits make it their New Year’s resolution to get jabbed.

    In a stark warning he said: “I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated. The people who think the disease can’t hurt them – look at the people going into hospital now, that could be you.

    “Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster, that could be you.

    “So, make it your New Year’s resolution – far easier than losing weight or keeping a diary – find a walk-in centre or make an online appointment.”

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