Boris Johnson to hold press conference TODAY as he prepares to make Omicron announcement
BORIS Johnson will hold a Downing St press conference TONIGHT as he prepares to hold his nerve by not imposing more crippling Covid restrictions.
The PM will address the nation on the latest Omicron data with top docs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance at 5pm.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup this morning said the pincer attack of boosters and Plan B is "working" to battle Omicron and there is no need for new curbs.
Despite rising cases of the super-strain, ministers are increasingly confident that hospitals will not become overwhelmed as feared.
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.
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.
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".
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.
Ahead of the announcement Ms Throup told Sky News this morning: "Plan B is working, as you can see from the number of hospitalisations, it's far, far fewer than this time last year and that's so important as well, that the vaccines are working, the measures for people to work from home are working.
"The Prime Minister said that Plan B is working and there'll be a Cabinet meeting today, and I don't see any reason why we need to change. It's important we do follow the data."
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.
But they are resisting demands to slash the self-isolation period to five days to help ease the pressure.
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."
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