Sajid Javid Won't Rule Out Further Coronavirus Restrictions Ahead Of Christmas
Sajid Javid has refused to rule out further restrictions ahead of Christmas
Sajid Javid has refused to rule out introducing further restrictions ahead of Christmas to deal with the Omicron variant.
The Health Secretary has said the situation is "very fast moving" after several days of record Covid case numbers linked to the more transmissible Omicron variant.
Speaking on Sunday, Sajid Javid admitted there was still a lot of "uncertainty" around the data as he refused to rule out introducing further restrictions ahead of Christmas.
The UK recorded 90,418 new cases on Friday, but Javid said there were many more infections which had not been recorded with the number of people catching the virus believed to be doubling every two to three days.
Asked if the government were considering further lockdown measures in the coming days, Javid told the BBC's Andrew Marr: "We are assessing the situation, it is very fast moving. We have seen with Omicron there is a lot we still don't know. That is the truth of the matter."
Despite the major Tory rebellion against new restrictions, which saw 100 Conservative backbenchers vote against parts of the Plan B measures, Javid said the government would still put any new plans before Parliament for a vote.
"If the government felt further action had to be taken we would present that to Parliament and it would be for Parliament to decide as it always should be," he said.
"I didn't personally come into Parliament to restrict people's freedoms.
"Quite the opposite, I want people to have more freedom, more opportunities, but I think the British people do understand this pandemic requires extraordinary actions and that is what last week was with the Plan B measures."
The Health Secretary added that while it was unclear whether the Omicron variant was more severe than previous waves, he said it was inevitable that the surge in cases would lead to an increase in hospitalisations.
"There is uncertainty around the severity, but what we do know and this is just mathematically correct, is that even if severity is much less than Delta, so a smaller percentage of people are hospitalised, a small percentage of a very large number of infections is still a large number of hospitalisations."
Speaking earlier, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said he believed it was "inevitable" that further restrictions would be required due to the "record levels" of staff absences in the health service and other emergency workers.
"I think it is inevitable... Look at the science, look at the trends, but if we don't bring in restrictions sooner rather than later you are going to see even more positive cases and potentially, public services like the NHS will be on the verge of collapse, if not collapsing," he said.
Statistician Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, who sits on the government's scientific advisory group, said ministers "can't wait to find out" what impact the new variant will have and should introduce further restrictions.
He told Sky News he was "absolutely sure" the rising infections would cause "massive disruption", adding: "Every day we delay will have a bigger impact further on."
Meanwhile, Javid criticised people who had failed to take the vaccine, saying they should "think about the damage they are doing to society".
It comes after new figures found a third of Londoners had not received a single jab, with Javid saying nine out of 10 of the sickest people in hospital were unvaccinated.
"People have had almost a year now to get vaccinated," he said.
"I just cannot emphasise enough the impact that they are having on the rest of society.
"They must really think about the damage they are doing to society. They take up hospital beds that could be used for someone with maybe a heart condition or someone who's waiting for an elective surgery.
"Instead of protecting themselves and protecting the community, they choose not to get vaccinated."
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