Boris Johnson says we need to delay Omicron ahead of live press briefi…

Boris Johnson has said we need to “delay the seeding of Omicron” in order to protect against the Covid-19 coronavirus.

It comes ahead of the chief Minister hosting live press briefing from Downing Street at 4pm this afternoon.

Speaking on a visit to a GP surgery in North London, the chief Minister said a “huge amount of progress” had been made against the Delta variant of coronavirus, but he said “we now have this question about the Omicron variant”.

He said: “Is it going to be hard work? Yes, it is. But I know that people can do it.”

Mr Johnson said: “What we need to do is delay the seeding of Omicron in this country.”

But he said there was not any change in guidance “about how people should be living their lives”.

The PM said there was “doubt about what exactly that variant (Omicron) can do” but boosters would give “a lot of protection against all types of the virus”.

Boris Johnson said he would be getting his booster jab later this week, but he said: “We don’t see any need at present, certainly, to change the overall guidance about how people should be living their lives.”

Speaking to broadcasters on a visit to a GP surgery in North London, he said: “Because if you look at what’s happening with the overall state of the pandemic, the Delta… our strategy for fighting the Delta version, the one that’s been most principal for a while now, has basically been working and there’s no doubt at all that though situations are high, the numbers of people being admitted to hospital and number of people being admitted to ICU, and sadly the number of people dying, those numbers have all been coming down.

“So it continues to go in the right direction, all we need to do is to take special measures now to protect against the arrival of Omicron, to delay until we’ve established exactly what we’re dealing with.

“And so we need the scientists at Porton Down, we need the scientists in the vaccine companies, to work out exactly to what extent this new variant Omicron may escape the vaccine.”

He additional: “And I just want to stress in any case the risks the answer is everywhere and always to get the booster because we think it’s overwhelmingly likely that the booster, getting vaccinated, will give you more protection.”

The PM was also whether he agreed with UK Health Security Agency chief Dr Jenny Harries who suggested people could limit their social contacts to curb the spread of the new coronavirus variant.

The chief Minister said: “I think it’s always sensible to be careful. But I think what Jenny is saying there is right, we’ve been living with a pandemic for a long time, people should continue to do things like make sure they have lots of fresh air, they wash their hands and take normal precautions, I think that’s thoroughly reasonable.

“But we’re not going to change the overall guidance. We don’t think that’s necessary. We don’t see anything to suggest that we need to go, for example, to Plan B.

“But what we do need to do is take particular precautions against Omicron until we’ve worked out exactly what kind of a threat it may present.”

Mr Johnson had earlier told Cabinet that the Government had taken “decisive and proportionate action against the new variant to slow the seeding and possible spread of Omicron and that our most important defence remains vaccinations and boosting our booster programme”, the spokesman said.

UK Health Security Agency chief Dr Jenny Harries also updated Cabinet on the latest coronavirus developments, along with England’s chief medical officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser (CSA) Sir Patrick Vallance.

The chief Minister’s official spokesman said Dr Harries told ministers there were 14 confirmed Omicron situations but “more were likely to be found in the coming days”.

“While further time is needed to study the characteristics of this variant and with work current at Porton Down to estimate it, both the CMO and CSA emphasised that getting a booster vaccine was the best way to gain protection against new and existing variants,” the spokesman said.

Downing Street said there was no guidance to schools to suggest they should cancel nativity plays.

The chief Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have set out the restrictions that we are placing on the public.

“We know how important education has been for our children and that includes all aspects of our schooling.

“Schools rightly will need to consider their individual needs but there is no guidance to that end.”

And the chief Minister’s spokesman said it was “down to individuals” to decide whether they go ahead with Christmas parties.

Asked if it was the Government’s position that there was no reason for people to cancel such events, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “There is clear guidance for the public about what to consider, as I’ve talked about – things like respiratory hygiene and ventilation, but beyond that there is no change in our guidance.

“Clearly it’s rightly down to individuals to decide what they think is the right approach but there is no Government guidance to that end.”

Asked if the PM had any plans for Christmas parties, the spokesman said: “(We will) set out the chief Minister’s plans in the normal way.”

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