Prime Minister Boris Johnson will address the nation at 8pm tonight in a
recorded statement to provide an update on booster vaccines, Downing Street said.
It comes as the UK Covid Alert Level has been raised to Level 4, meaning the epidemic is in ‘general circulation’ with transmission levels high or rising exponentially.
In a joint statement, government experts said the emergence of the Omicron variant ‘adds additional and rapidly increasing risk to the public and healthcare services’.
They added: ‘Early evidence shows that Omicron is spreading much faster than Delta and that vaccine protection against symptomatic disease from Omicron is reduced.
‘Data on severity will become clearer over the coming weeks but hospitalisations from Omicron are already occurring and these are likely to increase rapidly.’
The five officials, including England’s CMO Professor Chris Whitty, Northern Ireland’s Sir Michael McBride, Scotland’s Professor Gregor Smith, and Wales’ Dr Frank Atherton, said the NHS was already under pressure ‘mainly driven by non-Covid pressures’, with Omicron’s ability to escape vaccines ‘likely’ to add to those demands.
‘It is extremely important that if you are eligible, you get your Covid vaccination now – whether this be your first, second or booster dose,’ they said.
‘People should continue to take sensible precautions including ventilating rooms, using face coverings, testing regularly and isolating when symptomatic.’
It comes as the UK recorded 1,239 new confirmed cases of the Omicron variant – a record daily figure, and almost double the previous high which was announced yesterday.
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