Sajid Javid confirms 'no need to move away from Plan B' as he rules out more restrictions hours before presser

SAJID Javid said today there is no need to bring in more Covid restrictions and move away from Plan B at the moment.

The Health Secretary insisted there was nothing in the data to suggest more rules were needed – just hours before the PM is due to update the nation at 5pm.

Boris Johnson is to speak to Brits for the first time this year as he mulls crunch data on whether more lockdown rules are needed to curb cases.

The PM will address the nation on the latest Omicron data with top docs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance at 5pm.

The PM yesterday said Omicron is "plainly milder" than previous variants following studies showing it is up to 70 per cent less severe.

A third jab also significantly slashes the risk of falling seriously ill – and The Sun's Jab's Army campaign is helping get vital boosters in people's arms.

Speaking to broadcasters after a visit at a vaccination centre in south London, Mr Javid said: "There's nothing in data at this point that suggests that we need to move away from Plan B.

"I think Plan B, implementing that, has been the right approach and also being absolutely focused on the vaccination programme."

Mr Javid noted "getting to over 75% of eligible adults getting boosted is fantastic" but insisted "we still need to get through to that other 25% and that can really make a difference in how this country gets through this pandemic".

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Despite rising cases of the super-strain, ministers are increasingly confident that hospitals will not become overwhelmed as feared.

Mr Johnson is even facing calls to relax the rules by cutting the isolation time from seven to five days to ease the pressure of staff absences.

Meanwhile, kids are facing chaos on their first day back at school as teacher shortages threaten more closures and a return to damaging remote learning.

In major developments:

  • Millions of pupils will wear masks in classrooms today as they return
  • Scientists were "cautiously optimistic" that Covid was flattening in London
  • Ministers played down fears the booster rollout was slowing down
  • A vaccines guru said the worst days of pandemic are "behind us".

Mr Johnson is resisting furious calls from Tory MPs to cut the isolation period from seven to five days to help speed up the return to work.

Ministers say it could spectacularly backfire and possibly lead to more infections overall.

Ms Throup said: "We don't feel it's appropriate to reduce it any further because we will be very concerned that people will still be infectious and be able to pass on the disease."

The PM is meeting officials this morning to pore over the latest data ahead of the decision to hold off slamming on any more harmful measures.

He is expected to stick to the plan of working from home, indoor masks and Covid passports – and boosters – when Parliament returns tomorrow.

Pre-empting the announcement, Mr Javid said: "There's nothing in data at this point that suggests that we need to move away from Plan B.

"I think Plan B, implementing that, has been the right approach and also being absolutely focused on the vaccination programme."


Ministers and experts are growingly optimistic that doomsday predictions of swamped hospitals will be avoided.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said hospital admissions seem to have "perhaps plateaued in London".

Top boffin Prof Neil Ferguson also believes rates in the capital may be levelling off after a Christmas peak.

He said: "I think I'm cautiously optimistic that infection rates in London in that key 18-50 age group, which has been driving the Omicron epidemic, may possibly have plateaued, it's too early to say whether they're going down yet."

And Oxford vaccines chief Sir Andrew Pollard hailed that "the worst is absolutely behind us. We just need to get through the winter."

A further 157,758 Covid cases were recorded yesterday and another 42 deaths.

While the Omicron is obviously milder, the sheer number of cases has bundled droves of workers into isolation that's wreaking havoc on sectors and schools.

Ministers have reportedly been asked to submit plans on whether the military is likely to be needed to plug shortages in their areas.

The PM's spokesman said: "All departments have been asked to look at how they would mitigate against large-scale absences across their relevant workforces, up to 25%.

"In some circumstances that might require making a Maca request, a military aid request, in other circumstances it might not.

"There is no blanket requirement for military aid."

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