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No new COVID curbs for England in 2021

Britain’s government will not introduce new COVID-19 restrictions for England before the end of 2021, its health minister Sajid Javid says.

Partial figures reported by the government on Monday showed 98,515 new cases of COVID-19, but once data for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is factored in, it is likely to show cases remain only slightly below a December 24 peak of 122,186.

Nevertheless, Javid said ministers would not be taking any new steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the coming days.

“There will be no further measures before the new year,” Javid told reporters. “When we get into the new year, of course we will see then whether we do need to take any further measures.”

He said that the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of the virus now accounted for around 90 per cent of cases across England and urged people to celebrate New Year cautiously.

The government’s attention is focused on the number of patients being hospitalised with Omicron after early data last week suggested the variant carried a reduced risk of admission.

Britain has reported a total of 148,003 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, and 12.2 million positive tests during the pandemic so far.

Incomplete data was also published for December 25, showing 113,628 infections and December 26, showing 108,893 infections.

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