The relaxation of Covid restrictions in the UK over Christmas amid rising infections has prompted “growing concerns” about its transmission.
Analysis has shown the R number – which represents how many people each infected person passes the virus onto – has risen above 1 in the UK. The NHS is facing significant pressure, with nearly 90 per cent of hospital beds in England full, health leaders say.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is “hoping to avoid” another national lockdown in England.
On Friday, ministers met to discuss the action required to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, people in southern England, are facing the toughest Covid restrictions following the spread of a new variant of the virus.
Prof Sir Mark Walport, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said chances are a new strain could have a “transmission advantage”.
A Downing Street source said the government is “not there yet” on reconsidering plans to ease restrictions on all four UK nations and allow more household mixing for five days over Christmas.
However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer expressed disapproval of relaxation and called on Mr Johnson to “toughen up over Christmas” instead.