Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews, told Sky News Mr Johnson’s decision on Covid rules for the New Year “is a risky move”. Prof Reicher warned of possible further case rises resulting from Christmas socialising.
No new Covid restrictions will be implemented before the New Year in England. Meanwhile, in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, sweeping measures to tackle the spread of Omicron have been introduced.
Professor Reicher said: “The news is mixed. In the longer term, it does look now that Omicron is less serious and leads to less hospitalisations and less deaths.”
He noted how “in the longer term” that is “very good news”.
But he warned how this “does not compensate for the huge rise in the number of cases”.
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He suggested how the high case numbers are “more serious than the lesser seriousness of the disease” as he claimed this rise in cases, not the severity of the disease, is leading to a surge in hospitalisations.
But ProfReicher went further with his analysis as he said testing figures may not be accurate. He suggested Britain’s testing ability is being “overwhelmed” and there has been “underreporting at Christmas”.
He added: “On top of that, the figures don’t take into account the numbers of infections that will have been caused by the socialisation that went on at Christmas.
“We are putting ourselves in a very risky position by allowing the infections to run out of control.
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Wales and Northern Ireland have also closed nightclubs and brought in the rule of six.
Tuesday saw a record 129,471 Covid cases reported across the UK.
In total, 215,703 Britons received their booster or third jab on Tuesday, December 28.
That means 32.69 million people have now received a booster third dose of the Covid vaccine, while 47.29 million Britons have now received two doses.