Culture secretary

Shadow culture secretary calls for ‘more clarity’ on restrictions as government awaits new Omicron data

Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell has called for “more clarity” over data on the Omicron variant that could trigger new restrictions in England after Christmas.

Speaking to Sky News, Powell said the decision to impose new restrictions would be “finely balanced”, but that greater transparency was needed on the thresholds for the government to impose new restrictions from next week.

“We are all a little confused. This is our main complaint. »

The government is believed to be awaiting hospitalization data before making a firm commitment to imposing restrictions in England.

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford have already announced new restrictions in Scotland and Wales respectively from Boxing Day.

The MP for Manchester Central added that the Prime Minister was unable to make data-based decisions due to his own weakened authority within the Conservative Party.

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers, told the Today program that the government still did not have “conclusive data” regarding the impact of the Omicron variant on hospitalisations.

Mr Hopson said: “It’s a bit like trying to predict the outcome of a football match and you’re only a third of the way through.”

A new study from Imperial College London has found that people are 40-45% less likely to spend one or more nights in hospital compared to Delta. This is partly due to higher levels of immunity and vaccination, but Omicron is also believed to be less harmful than previous variants.

Professor Azra Ghani, chair of infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College London, also spoke to the Today programme, acknowledging it was ‘good news’ that Omicron appeared to be a variant less serious, but warned that the study was inconclusive as to whether further restrictions would be needed in the coming weeks.

Professor Ghani said: “We have to bear in mind that Omicron has really circulated in a younger population”. Professor Ghani also warned that it is still relatively unknown how the intergenerational mixing over Christmas will affect hospitalizations over the next few weeks.