British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday the nation’s current surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant is going to put “considerable” pressure on the National Health Service but that there is no need for new restrictions at this time.
Johnson made the comments to reporters while visiting a vaccination center in Buckinghamshire. The prime minister said while his government will continuously monitor the situation, the current measures Britain has in place are the right ones to combat the spread of the virus.
Last month, as new infections driven by the omicron variant began to rise, the government implemented what they called “Plan B” measures, which include working from home, if possible, the use of masks on public transportation and getting tested if going to meet someone you do not normally associate with, among other rules.
Some students to wear masks
The British health minister also issued a statement saying that beginning Tuesday, they recommend that secondary school students wear masks in the classroom.
Johnson said the difference between Britain and much of the rest of Europe is its high rate of vaccination, and they are continuing to build up defenses against the virus with boosters.
He said one of the reasons he made the appearance at the vaccination center was to encourage people to get booster shots, saying, “a third jab really does make a big, big, difference.” The British prime minister said the majority of people currently in the country’s intensive care units have not been vaccinated, and about 90% have not been boosted.
The highly transmissible omicron variant has caused Britain’s daily new caseload to soar over Christmas and the New Year’s weekend, with 137,583 infections and 73 deaths reported for England and Wales on Sunday, with numbers for Scotland and Northern Ireland to be announced after the holiday weekend.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.