Following the introduction of Plan B measures, people up and down the UK have one question on their minds; will there be another lockdown?
With Christmas approaching the memories of last year’s cancelled events still remain fresh in our minds, and many are hoping that history does not repeat itself.
With the UK reporting the highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, the questions are becoming more prevalent.
So what do we know about another UK lockdown?
At present, there is no definite confirmation whether or not there will be another lockdown.
England is currently under Plan B restrictions. These were drawn up as an aid to slow down any surge of Covid-19 infection.
It sees England under certain social restrictions for the first time since restrictions were lifted in July. Masks, Covid passes and travel restrictions are all commonplace within Plan B.
Reports also claim that a ‘Plan C’ or ‘Plan B Plus’ are now being drawn up, which could see tougher restrictions put in place in order to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant.
This comes as the UK Health Security Agency says the country will have more than one million Omicron infections by the end of December if the current trajectory does not change.
Tougher Covid restrictions may be needed to prevent Omicron
Scientists advising the government have also urged that tougher restrictions may be required if 25,000 to 75,000 deaths over the next 5 months are to be prevented.
The experts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who also sit on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) or the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), predict a large wave of infections in January.
#OmicronVariant latest information
4,671 additional confirmed cases of the #Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been reported across the UK. Confirmed Omicron cases in the UK now total 10,017.
NOTE: Important information about case data in thread below⬇️ pic.twitter.com/gXoellwtPa
— UK Health Security Agency (@UKHSA) December 15, 2021
If no additional measures above Plan B are introduced, the advisors claim that even under the most optimistic scenario (low immune escape of Omicron from vaccines and high effectiveness of booster jabs), a wave of infection is projected.
This could lead to a peak of more than 2,000 daily hospital admissions, with 175,000 hospital admissions and 24,700 deaths between December 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022.
Will there be a firebreak lockdown over Christmas?
At a recent Downing Street briefing, Boris Johnson noted he believes this Christmas will be better than last, but urged people to be cautious
He said people should “think carefully before you go, what kind of event is it? Are you likely to meet people who are vulnerable?… Get a test, make sure there is ventilation, wear a mask on transport.”
He also insisted that Plan B was the right course of action, along with the booster programme extension that will “provide an excellent level of protection”.
During a visit to a vaccination clinic on Monday, December 13, the Prime Minister refused to comment on the likelihood of tougher restrictions being introduced.
He commented on the importance of the Plan B restrictions and his hope that they would be enough. However, despite calls to rule out tougher restrictions, he refused to do so.
However, on Thursday, December 16, Health Minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News that the government will not be introducing restrictions between now and Christmas day and that Boris Johnson “won’t hesitate” to recall Parliament if he needed to bring in extra measures.
Booster vaccine programme
This comes as all adults over 18 across England are now being encouraged to book their booster vaccine.
Recent analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provided “much lower” levels of protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron compared to Delta.
But said a booster dose gives around 70% to 75% protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron, as they urged people to have their boosters.