UK's Johnson rules out new COVID curbs before Xmas

Britain has reported record levels of COVID-19 cases over the past week as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads, and hospitalizations are also rising.

Johnson held a more than two-hour meeting with his cabinet to discuss the latest COVID-19 data on Monday (December 20). Media reported several ministers had pushed back against the prospect of new curbs before Christmas, despite warnings from some scientists.

"We don't think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas," Johnson said in a video posted on social media.

Uncertainty remained around how likely people were to need hospital treatment after being infected with Omicron, compared to previous variants, as well as the impact of booster doses of vaccines, which are being rolled out rapidly.

"We can't rule out any further measures after Christmas," Johnson added. "We continue to monitor Omicron very closely and if the situation deteriorates we will be ready to take action if needed."

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