There is fear among people in England that their Christmas plans will be cancelled for the second year in a row due to concerns over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The government has said that tougher restrictions cannot be ruled out, however the conservatives have said that there isn’t enough Omicron impact evidence to immediately implement more Covid-19 restrictions.
On Monday, Boris Johnson announced that one person in England has died from the Omicron variant, in addition to the 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday that the current number of daily infections is estimated to be around 200,000.
The Health Secretary told Parliament on Monday: “While Omicron represents over 20% of cases in England, we’ve already seen it rise to over 44% in London and we expect it to become the dominant Covid-19 variant in the capital in the next 48 hours.”
In response to rising infections, the UK upgraded its Covid-19 alert level from level 3 to level 4, yet has also announced travel restriction easing, with all 11 ‘red’ countries removed from the list, including South Africa, Botswana and Angola.
No-one should be in any doubt: There is a tidal wave of Omicron coming
Scotland has decided to limit mixing to three households in the run up to Christmas, with Nicole Sturgeon urging people across the UK to limit social mixing pre-and post-Christmas holidays.
Chief Medical Officers in the UK have said that early evidence shows the omicron variant is spreading much faster than Delta, and that vaccine protection against symptoms is reduced.
In a televised address to the nation on Sunday night, Boris Johnson said: ““No-one should be in any doubt: There is a tidal wave of Omicron coming.”
Johnson added: “But the good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose — a booster dose — we can all bring our level of protection back up.”
There are international students across the UK who are unable to fly home due to self-isolation and will now be spending Christmas alone in their university accommodations.
For many students, this will be their second Christmas away from home, which raises concerns over student mental health and the impact of lonely self-isolations.
A student from the University of Nottingham was one of the first confirmed Omicron cases in the UK, and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the Nottingham case was connected to travel to southern Africa.