| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

UK’s Omicron deaths rise to 12, no guarantees on Christmas restrictions

The Omicron version of the coronavirus has killed 12 individuals in the United Kingdom, according to Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who refused to exclude out imposing social restrictions before Christmas.

Officials and ministers in the United Kingdom have warned that the entire impact of the latest round of COVID-19 cases will not be known for some time.

Omicron was first discovered in southern Africa and Hong Kong last month, and has now been reported in at least 89 nations. It is known to be highly contagious, but the severity of the illness it produces is unknown.

In addition to the 12 deaths, Raab said 104 individuals were being treated for Omicron in hospitals. Officials cautioned last week that when the impacts of the recent surge work their way through the population, hospitalizations might reach new highs.

“I really can’t offer hard and fast commitments,” Raab said when asked if the government will implement more limits before Christmas.

“We rely significantly on real data coming in when assessing the situation, and it will take a little longer to examine this crucial issue of Omicron’s severity.”

Any decision to limit how people can celebrate Christmas would come at a high political cost for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose authority has been undermined by questions over whether he and his staff broke lockdown rules last year.

Johnson also suffered a huge rebellion in parliament last week as lawmakers from his own party pushed back hard against a tightening of COVID-19 rules.

To pass the new rules, which included ordering people to wear masks in public places, Johnson had to rely on the support of the main opposition Labor Party.

  • Reuters