Second Covid Jabs Open To 12-15-Year-Olds As UK Records Highest Ever Daily Cases
Boris Johnson has confirmed that children aged 12-15 will be able to book a second coronavirus vaccine from Monday next week as the UK faces a significant rise in new Covid cases.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister confirmed that the doubling rate of Omicron is now down to less than two days.
"The wave of Omicron continues to roll in across the whole of our United Kingdom," he said.
A bracing 78,610 new Covid cases were recorded in the UK in the last 24 hours, the highest number since the pandemic began. Previously, the highest number of daily UK cases was 68,053 on 8 January.
The total number of people recorded as having the Omicron variant, meanwhile, is now 10,017, though the real figure is expected to be far higher.
Hospitalisation of people with the virus are up 10% week on week, while in London the figure is up by a third.
However, admissions among older age groups, who are more likely to have received a booster jab, are in decline.
"We are also seeing signs of hope," Johnson said.
"Since we launched our emergency Omicron appeal on Sunday night, a great national fightback has begun.
"People have responded with an amazing spirit of beauty and obligation to others.
"Each and every one of you who rolls up their sleeve to get jabbed is helping this national effort."
Speaking alongside Johnson, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty described Omicron as a "really serious threat".
"There are several things that we don’t know at the moment, but all things that we do know are bad", Whitty said.
The Chief Medical Officer recommended that members of the public reduce their social interactions in the build up to Christmas by prioritising those that are most important.
“I think that what most people are doing – and this is really sensible – is prioritising social interactions that really matter to them, and to protect those ones, deprioritising those that matter much less to them," Whitty said.
"I think that’s going to become increasingly important as we go into the Christmas period," he added.
"Don’t mix with people you don’t have to… that would be my general advice but people have to make their own choices."
The Chief Medical Officer commended the Biritsh public for voluntarily "taking a lot of precautions", such as taking Covid tests before visiting friends and family.
On Sunday evening the Prime Minister launched a campaign to deliver booster jabs to all adults aged 18 and over in time for the new year in a bid to curb the spread of Omicron.
Yesterday 548,039 people received their boost, breaking the record for the highest number of vaccines delivered by the NHS in a single day.
On Tuesday evening Parliament voted through a series of Covid restrictions aimed at reducing viral transmission, although a significant number of Conservative MPs voted against the government.
The new regulations include compulsory vaccination for frontline NHS workers, mandatory face coverings in public indoor spaces and Covid certification to gain access to large events and nightclubs.
During Prime Ministers Questions today, Johnson assured MPs that if any further measures are needed during the Christmas Parliamentary recess, which begins tomorrow, MPs will be recalled to vote on them.
The Prime Minister also confirmed today that former appeals court judge Baroness Hallett will chair a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The crossbench peer, who has handled a number of high-profile investigations in recent years, will take up her role in the New Year.
The Covid-19 inquiry, which will be established under the Inquiries Act 2005, will have the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.
Boris Johnson has previously said it will commence in Spring 2022, and he will now consult Baroness Hallett and ministers from the devolved administrations on the terms of reference, which will be published in draft in the new year. Additional panel members will also be appointed then.
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