Coronavirus figures showing a concerning surge in hospitalisations may see new COVID-19 restrictions be imposed in England as soon as Tuesday. The measures could put New Year’s Eve festivities at stake and last up to three months, until March 28, as presented in a potential scenario set up by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to look at the latest pandemic data and is expected to review the Sage assessment on Monday.
The new modelling Sage has based its recommendations on comes from the University of Warwick and was handed to the group of scientists on Thursday.
It is thought the core of Mr Johnson’s and the cabinet’s discussions tomorrow will be whether additional measures are needed to protect the NHS.
Sage on Christmas Eve warned of a “large wave” of hospital admissions that could turn this winter into an even worse one than last year’s.
The group stressed the peak in admissions “may be comparable to or higher than previous peaks”.
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Earlier this month, more than 100 Conservative MPs voted against Mr Johnson’s intention to implement Plan B measures.
However, in response to the findings of the University of Warwick, No10’s top scientific advisors have looked at the effects of a potential return to Step 2 restrictions.
Step 2, part of last year’s lockdown roadmap, bans indoor social mixing, brings back the rule of six, and limits bars’ and restaurants’ service to outdoors only.
Sage has explored the impact it would have to move into Step 2 on December 28 or January 1 – either for two weeks, four weeks, or three months.
Worst case scenario, life in England could be limited until March 28.
Just in London, a total of 386 Covid hospital admissions were recorded by hospitals on December 22 – up 92 percent week on week and the highest number for a single day since February 1.
According to government sources, new restrictions will be considered if the number goes beyond 400.
No10 said the Sage assessment, which includes an analysis of a total of 13 different scenarios that could be applied based on four degrees of Omicron severity, had not yet been considered by ministers.
All scenarios take into account hospital admissions, the length of the stays and the mortality rate.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, is talking to officials on Sunday about whether the Government is preparing to recall parliament for MPs to vote through any new coronavirus measures before the New Year.
Sage told Government “the earlier interventions happen, and the more stringent they are, the more likely they are to be effective”.
While uncertainty looms over England’s coronavirus situation, new Covid restrictions have come into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Boxing Day.
All three nations, in a bid to halt the surge in infections, have resumed social distancing rules introduced curbs on the hospitality and leisure sector, and enforced a limit on the size of gatherings.