More Covid-19 restrictions in Britain ‘inevitable’, London mayor says

LONDON (REUTERS) – New Covid-19 restrictions are inevitable, as without them, Britain will see public services such as the National Health Service (NHS) on the verge of collapse, London Mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC Television on Sunday (Dec 19).

Mr Khan declared a “major incident” on Saturday to help the capital’s hospitals cope with a surge in Covid-19 cases caused by the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant.

“I think it’s inevitable,” Mr Khan told the BBC when asked about the likelihood of further restrictions. “If we don’t bring in new restrictions sooner rather than later, you’re going to see even more positive cases and potentially public services like the NHS on the verge of collapse, if not collapsing.”

The mayor’s stance was more urgent than that of British health minister Sajid Javid, who said that while analysis of the data suggested around 60 per cent of all new Covid-19 cases in England are the fast-spreading Omicron variant, the country was in a better position than last Christmas, thanks to things such as vaccinations and testing.

Asked on Sunday about reports of possible further measures, Mr Javid said: “We will do what is necessary. But it has got to be backed up by the data… we are watching the data, discussing it with our scientists and our best advisers almost on an hourly basis and we will monitor that very carefully, we will keep the situation under review.”

The British health minister also said he understood why Brexit minister David Frost, who quit over disillusionment with the direction of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, had resigned.

“I do understand his reasons. He is a principled man, principled people do resign from the government,” Mr Javid told Sky News when asked about the resignation.

Mr Frost resigned on Saturday. “You know my concerns about the current direction of travel,” he told Mr Johnson in a letter released by Downing Street. “I hope we will move as fast as possible to where we need to get to: a lightly regulated, low tax, entrepreneurial economy, at the cutting edge of modern science and economic change.”

Mr Frost said he had agreed with Mr Johnson earlier this month to leave in January, but because his move had been leaked, it should happen with immediate effect.

“We also need to learn to live with Covid-19,” Mr Frost said. “I hope we can get back on track soon and not be tempted by the kind of coercive measures we have seen elsewhere.”

Mr Johnson said he was sorry to receive Mr Frost’s resignation.

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