UK Covid cases hit record high as PM urges people to get booster jabs and Chris Whitty warns of worse to come

The UK can expect several more weeks where Covid cases hit a record high, England’s chief medical officer has warned, as Omicron continues its exponential rise across the country.

By Press Association
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 6:12 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Wednesday December 15, 2021.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Wednesday December 15, 2021.

Professor Chris Whitty told a Downing Street briefing there were “two epidemics on top of one another” as the UK recorded 78,610 new cases of coronavirus, including cases of the new variant.

He said: “I’m afraid we have to be realistic that records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks as the rates continue to go up.

“What we’ve got is two epidemics on top of one another – an existing Delta epidemic, roughly flat, and a very rapidly growing Omicron epidemic on top of it.”

Prof Whitty said the Government had to choose between “really unpalatable options”, adding that there was no clear data yet on severe disease and deaths from Omicron with two jabs, and what the picture was for those who have had boosters.

He said: “I think what most people are doing – and I think this seems very sensible – is prioritising the social interactions that mean a lot to them and, to prioritise those ones, de-prioritising ones that mean much less to them.”

He said he “strongly encouraged” that people take lateral flow tests before meeting up and ensuring there was good ventilation.

In the same briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to have their booster vaccines as he said a “great national fightback has begun” against Omicron.

He insisted the Government’s Plan B was the right thing to do, adding that boosters also “provide an excellent level of protection”.