Boris Johnson: I’m confident this Christmas will be considerably better than last

The Government said as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 39,567 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.

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The Prime Minister said he is “confident” this Christmas “will be considerably better than last Christmas.”

Questioned about the prospect for this year’s festivities at a Downing Street press conference relating to the new coronavirus variant, Boris Johnson said: “We continue to be in a strong position largely thanks to the speed of the vaccine rollout, another booster rollout and I think I’m going to stick with the formula I’ve used before, which is I’m pretty confident to absolutely confident this Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas.”

The Government said as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 39,567 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.

The Government also said a further 131 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 144,724.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 169,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Boris Johnson has said anyone arriving in the UK will be asked to take a PCR test for Covid-19 on the second day and they must self-isolate until they provide a negative result.

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference on Saturday: “We’re not going to stop people travelling, I want to stress that, we’re not going to stop people travelling, but we will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result.

“Second, we need to slow down the spread of this variant here in the UK, because measures at the border can only ever minimise and delay the arrival of a new variant rather than stop it all together.

“We will require all contacts of those who test positive with a suspected case of Omicron to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of your vaccination status.

“We will also go further in asking all of you to help contain the spread of this variant by tightening up the rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport.”

Boris Johnson also announced that face coverings will become compulsory on public transport and in shops. Not including hospitality.

The Prime Minister said: "We will also go further in asking all of you to help contain the spread of this variant by tightening up the rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport.”

Professor Chris Whitty said it is “inevitable” the Omicron variant will spread across the world over the next few days.

England’s chief medical officer said while it is clear Omicron is highly transmissible, it is not yet clear how effective the vaccine will be as protection against it – but said those who are vaccinated or receive the booster jab will be less likely to become seriously ill.

Professor Whitty also made a Christmas plea for the country to “raise a glass” to the scientists who have produced the vaccines.

He said: “If I can make one Christmas plea? It would be that when people raise their glasses this Christmas, they do so to the extraordinary scientists who produce the vaccines, the diagnostics, the drugs which will allow this Christmas, if possible, to be in a very different place to what it would have been without them.”