Omicron ‘plainly milder’; new measures not needed, UK’s Johnson says

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New measures are not needed now in Britain to fight the Omicron variant, which is “plainly milder” than earlier forms of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

“The way forward for the country as a whole is to continue with the path that we are on,” he told broadcasters. “Of course we will keep all measures under review, but the mixture of things that we are doing at the moment is I think the right one.”

Despite a huge surge in infections, Johnson has so far mainly resisted imposing new restrictions in England, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the UK population. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which control their own rules, have imposed some new measures.

Johnson said pressure on hospitals would be “considerable” in the next couple of weeks, but Omicron was “plainly milder” than previous variants, and the country was in a stronger position than it was earlier in the pandemic.

Britain had a “very, very high level” of vaccination, he said, and it was continuing to build up its defences with the booster programme.

England and Scotland reported 157,758 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, according to government data, while another 42 people in England died within 28 days of a positive test.

Official data over the Christmas and New Year period has often been incomplete due to reporting delays.

On Sunday, there were 137,583 cases reported for England and Wales.

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