Omicron: Sajid Javid responds to fears of December lockdown
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Sajid Javid assured the Sky presenter families should assume their plans will be able to go ahead as usual this Christmas. However, following last year’s sudden winter lockdown, Trevor Phillips was concerned Britain could face winter restrictions every year if new coronavirus variants continue to emerge.
Javid admitted there was still a lot to learn about the new strain, and is expected to announce temporary Christmas measures later today.
Appearing on Sky News on Sunday, he was pressed for more information from presenter Phillips.
He asked the Secretary: “Is it time to level with us and come clean about this?
“It’s going to be like this every winter now, isn’t it? With new variants, new possibilities.”
“We’re going to run out of Greek letters. Is this the future?”
Javid assured this wasn’t the case, though said there will undoubtedly be more variants emerging in the coming years.
He also called for other countries to improve their vaccination rollout to combat the virus.
The Secretary told Phillips: “Will there be more variants? I think there will be.
“Almost certainly, especially when most of the world is not vaccinated against this sadly, and that is something every country needs to step up and do more.”
Javid maintained the UK was playing its part in vaccinating the population for the fight against COVID, but said other countries needed to play their part.
The government is now encouraging those who have already been double vaccinated to receive their booster jab in the run-up to the holidays.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also brought back compulsory masks in shops and public transport and added four new countries to the UK’s travel red list.
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However, some will still be concerned over the risk of further restrictions, or even another lockdown, as cases of the new variant emerge across the UK.
Just two cases have been found so far, and Dr Angelique Coetzee has recently reported Omicron symptoms were unusual but relatively mild compared to other COVID strains.
Even so, Javid reiterated: “We will have to learn to live with COVID.
“We will never defeat it. We have to learn to live with it.”
“We have to learn to live with it, as we have learned to live with flu. Of course, it is not flu, and we need to learn more about it.
“But we have many more measures and tools in the box today that we didn’t have even this time last year.”
The UK faced tougher restrictions from November last year, and was sent into a third lockdown in January.
Following a successful vaccine rollout, as well as preventatives such as lateral flow tests and antivirals, Javid remained optimistic about the challenges facing the UK this winter.
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