Boris Johnson to hold Downing St press conference as number of Omicron cases in UK grows

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Saturday November 27, 2021.
Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus on Saturday. (PA)

Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference at 4pm on Tuesday as part of the government’s drive to encourage take-up of booster jabs.

The prime minister will be joined by health secretary Sajid Javid and NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard.

Johnson will deliver the latest updates on the Omicron variant of coronavirus, as the number of cases in the UK increases.

He is expected to lay out details of the government’s new COVID-19 boosters plan to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.

Read more: 5 things we have learned about COVID and the Omicron variant

On Monday, the government announced that COVID booster jabs are to be offered to all adults in the UK.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the gap between second jabs and boosters should be reduced from six to three months.

Watch: More COVID jabs rolled out as UK records further Omicron cases

It also advised that children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine no sooner than 12 weeks after their first dose.

At 4am on Tuesday, face masks became compulsory again in shops and on public transport in England in an effort to halt the new variant, a move announced by Johnson in a press conference on Saturday.

Three new cases of the Omicron variant were identified in Scotland on Tuesday, bringing the total there to nine and the number in the UK to 14.

Five cases have so far been identified in England, with two in London revealed on Monday night.

On Monday, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, urged the public not to panic about the Omicron variant, saying the rise in cases is “not all doom and gloom”.

Ahead of his press conference on Tuesday, Johnson defended England’s new coronavirus rules, despite calls for face coverings to be compulsory in pubs and restaurants.

As well as face masks being made mandatory on public transport and in shops, people arriving in the UK from abroad must take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

“The measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible, and will buy us time in the face of this new variant,” said Johnson.

A man wearing a face covering boards an underground train as mask wearing on public transport becomes mandatory to contain the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Picture date: Tuesday November 30, 2021.
Commuters wearing face masks on a London Underground train after coverings became mandatory on public transport on Tuesday. (PA)
A person sitting on a bus, as mask wearing on public transport becomes mandatory to contain the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. Picture date: Tuesday November 30, 2021.
A passenger on a bus in a mask on Tuesday as it became mandatory to wear face coverings on public transport. (PA)

“Vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted."

In Scotland, there have been five cases of the Omicron variant in the Lanarkshire area and four in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Read: 8 COVID hotspots as UK urges boosters for all to battle Omicron

Asked if there was any connection between the cases and the recent COP26 summit in Glasgow or a Scotland rugby match against South Africa in Edinburgh earlier this month, Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “There’s nothing that links these cases or indeed the variant back to Cop26 or indeed the rugby match.”

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “There’s nothing that indicates these cases or this new variant has come via the rugby or COP26 but that work of course is still ongoing.”

Watch: Health secretary confirms new coronavirus restrictions

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