UK’s Omicron death toll rises to 12 with 104 in hospital amid fears of Christmas restrictions

THE UK's Omicron death toll has now risen to 12, with 104 patients in hospital with the variant, Dominic Raab said this morning.

It comes as the PM is facing a battle between ministers and experts over bringing in stricter restrictions surrounding Christmas.

Scientists have been left spooked by the speed of the spread, with fears hospitals could become overwhelmed if cases continue to rise.

The country has now got 37,101 Omicron infections, with the total Covid cases higher than ever before in recent days, with yesterday seeing a daily rise of 82,886.

Recently daily deaths have been around 100 on average, and as of December 13, 900 patients a day were admitted to hospital with the virus.

Boris Johnson's spokesperson confirmed the PM would chair a meeting of his cabinet of senior ministers at 2pm this afternoon to discuss the next steps.

They said: "At this point we are still monitoring the data and keeping a very close eye on it.

"We will update the public if there are any further measures required, at the earliest possible opportunity."

A booster shot is the best protection against Omicron, with early data suggesting it pushes efficacy back up to 75 per cent.

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Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive said: “Once again, we urge everyone who is able to get a booster jab to come forward and do so. It is the best defence we have against this highly transmissible new variant."

The Sun is urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.

It is understood Mr Johnson is not preparing to announce any more Covid restrictions today despite summoning a crunch Cabinet meeting.

The PM is pressing pause on a press conference after top ministers demanded more time to examine the latest Omicron data.

In major developments:

  • Gloomy scientists ramped up their calls for a Christmas circuit-breaker
  • Cabinet rowed over whether more measures were really needed
  • Businesses begged the PM not to wreck their Christmas trading window
  • The 10-day Covid isolation rule could be cut to just a week
  • Schools were warned they could face disruption until Easter

They want to carefully look over the figures before rubber-stamping any fresh curbs they fear will take a sledgehammer to Christmas.

But Dominic Raab this morning warned the situation was changing "hour by hour" in the biggest hint yet more measures were on the way.

The Deputy PM said there are no "hard and fast guarantees" more restrictions won't be imposed by Christmas to tackle the Omicron tsunami.

He hoped family festivities would be better than last year's lockdown – but said ministers would pull the trigger "earlier rather than later" if forced.

And he hammered the government's plea that the best weapon in our inventory are vaccines by urging everyone to get their boosters.

But there are growing fears that the Government could once again announce snap restrictions throwing Christmas plans into chaos.

The Government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty are briefing an unscheduled meeting of the Cabinet this afternoon.

Downing Street denied it was an emergency meeting, saying ministers were being updated on a fast-changing situation.

It comes after the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned daily hospital admissions could reach 3,000 without further restrictions.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said it was part of the job of ministers to scrutinise any advice they were given.

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