Boris Johnson to decide on new Covid restrictions next week warning of 'challenges' ahead as Omicron hospitalisations rise

The Prime Minister may reintroduce measures to curb indoor gatherings as the number of people being hospitalised with Covid rises to more than 11,000

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The Prime Minister is to decide next week whether or not to reintroduce measures to limit social gatherings indoors, as the Omicron variant continues to surge.

In his New Year's Eve address, Boris Johnson noted that there will be 'challenges' in the coming weeks.

Mr Johnson deviated from the devolved leaders in the his approach to tackling the Omicron Covid variant, as he chose not to introduce measures between Christmas and New Year's Eve. However as case numbers continue rise, it's expected that the Prime Minister will make a decision on whether to bring in restrictions in January.

In his New Year's Eve message, the Prime Minister said that Britain's position in the fight against Covid is 'incomparably better than last year' thanks to vaccine take-up.

'Happy New Year, 2022 is almost upon us, and whatever the challenges that fate continues to throw in our way and whatever the anxieties we may have about the weeks and months ahead, particularly about Omicron and the growing numbers in hospitals, we can say one thing with certainty - our position this December the 31st is incomparably better than last year.'

NHS Providers head Chris Hopson has said that new restrictions 'may be needed at pace if the evidence warrants it'.

189,213 Covid cases were recorded in the UK on Thursday as hospitalisations rose to 11,452. That's a 60 per cent hike in the last seven days.

The NHS is setting up new Nightingale “surge hubs” at hospitals across England as it goes on a “war footing” to prepare for a potential wave of Omicron hospital admissions.

Work on a total of eight hubs, each with a capacity of around 100 patients, is set to begin as early as this week, according to NHS England.

Further sites could also be identified to add a further 4,000 “super surge” beds.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Given the high level of Covid-19 infections and increasing hospital admissions, the NHS is now on a war footing.

“We do not yet know exactly how many of those who catch the virus will need hospital treatment, but given the number of infections we cannot wait to find out before we act and so work is beginning from today to ensure these facilities are in place.

“We hoped never to have to use the original Nightingales and I hope we never to have to use these new hubs.”