The UK is “preparing to live with Covid” but “has not yet reached that point”, said Michael Gove.
The cabinet minister told Sky News that the UK has one of the “most open” and “one of the most liberal approaches of any country in Europe” when it comes to Covid, but that regulations are still needed to protect the NHS.
But he added: “We always keep things under review because we are always guided by facts, science and changing circumstances.
“So I think it’s surprising to note that in the UK in general, particularly in England, we have one of the most open regimes, one of essentially … one of the most liberal approaches of any country in Europe.
“However, we must also balance that with a determination to make sure we don’t overwhelm the NHS.”
Ministers ‘looking’ to reduce isolation period, PM confirms
Ministers are seeking to reduce the period of self-isolation for those who test positive for Covid to five days, Boris Johnson confirmed.
When asked about reducing the isolation period from seven days to five days, the prime minister said: “We are looking at that.”
But he added that the government would follow the science.
“We have to make sure we fire Omicron. We are making great progress, ”Johnson said in a broadcast clip.
“(But) the 18,000 people with COVID currently in the hospital … that has increased enormously, and the numbers are increasing,” he said, adding that perhaps 30 percent of those people had been infected in the hospital.
London cases exceed 2 million
More than two million Londoners have tested positive for Covid in just under two years, official figures have revealed.
They show that 2,003,245 people have been registered for the capital with the virus, according to official statistics dating from February 11, 2020.
This equates to between one in four and one in five Londoners who test positive in a population of about nine million.
The true figure is significantly higher, in part because many people have the disease asymptomatically.
Read our full report from our political editor Nic Cecil here.
India begins booster rollout
India began administering Covid vaccine boosters to front-line workers and vulnerable seniors on Monday.
It came about when the Omicron variant drove a nearly eight-fold increase in daily infections over the past 10 days.
The Health Ministry said only 5 to 10 percent of those infected have been hospitalized, compared with 20 to 23 percent during the Delta wave that peaked in May.
Authorities in the cities of Delhi and Mumbai say most people have shown no or only minor symptoms and have recovered quickly at home.
Dr. David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s special envoy on Covid, told Sky News that Covid tended to follow a pattern of increase “every three to four months.”
He said: “It is difficult to use past behavior to predict the future. And I don’t like doing that too much.
“But I agree that the pattern, I think, that is going to happen with this virus is continuous waves, and living with Covid means being able to prepare for these waves and react very quickly when they occur.
“Life can go on, we can get the economy going again in a lot of countries, but we just have to be really respectful of the virus and that means having really good plans to deal with surges.”
Clean your throat and nose when taking LFT, say Israeli scientists
People who are screened for Covid should clean their throat and nose when using lateral flow test kits to increase the chances of detecting the Omicron variant, a senior Israeli health official said.
Many kits sold in the UK only require people to rub their noses for traces of the virus.
On Israeli army radio, Sharon Alroy-Preis, Israel’s chief of public health, said antigen tests, which are widely used in the country, are less sensitive than PCR tests for detecting disease.
“To increase your sensitivity, from now on we will recommend rubbing your throat and nose. It is not what the manufacturer instructs, but we are instructing it, ”he said.
The NHS is likely to be under pressure for ‘2-3 weeks’
The NHS is likely to be under real pressure for “the next two to three weeks, maybe more,” said Michael Gove.
The cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “Our first responsibility at this time must be to support the NHS, but you are legitimately asking if we succeed, and at this time I hope and pray that we will overcome this difficulty. period, then there will be better times ahead.
“And I think one of the things we need to think about is how do we live with Covid, how do we live with this particular type of coronavirus.
“There are other coronaviruses that are endemic and that we live with, viruses tend to develop in a way where they become less harmful but more widespread.
“So, guided by science, we can look towards the progressive lifting of restrictions, and I think for all of us, the sooner the better. But we have to keep the NHS safe. “
‘The end is in sight,’ says WHO chief
Dr. David Nabarro, special envoy of the World Health Organization on Covid, said that the virus is going to pose a very difficult situation for the next three months “at least”, but “we can see the end in sight.”
He told Sky News: “I’m afraid we are moving forward in the marathon, but there is no real way to say that we are at the end; We can see the end in sight, but we are not there.
“And there will be some bumps before we get there … I can’t tell you how bad they’re going to be, but at least I can tell you what I’m waiting for.”
He said the world is likely to see new variants emerge, leaving politicians faced with “tough decisions.”
Archbishop of Canterbury urges British to get vaccinated
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged people to get vaccinated “to take care of their neighbors” but said the UK should “encourage” and not condemn those who reject the jab.
When asked what society’s attitude towards the unvaccinated should be, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today show: something else, but it also increases the general feeling of anger that arises at a time of insecurity, fear, and pain.
“I think we should encourage people to take care of their neighbors.”
He quoted Jesus saying “love your neighbor as yourself”, adding: “So if you do that, it seems to me that you go and get vaccinated.”
The tests ‘allow people to manage their risks’
Pressed for free trials, Professor Medley said: “I think the value of getting free trials is that it enables people to manage their risks.
“And we’ve seen since July, the number of submissions was roughly constant, just under 1,000 per day, through early December.
“That can really only happen if people are managing their risks and the free diagnostics have allowed it.”
Government ‘can make profitable decisions about virus once it becomes endemic’
The government will be able to make “profitable decisions about how it is going to manage Covid to improve public health” once the virus has become endemic, a scientist said.
Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said ministers would no longer need to “control disease to try to reduce their own risk of overcrowded hospitals.”
When asked if that could mean the end of free mass testing and free mass vaccinations, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “The decisions that the government makes about vaccination, for example against measles, are based on decisions in terms of public health, but also costs.
“And I think that, to some extent, that approach will become more and more likely as we move forward. Vaccines are really the things that are changing the landscape, both in terms of public health and in terms of decision-making.
“As always, the government has to make a decision, balancing all these different points of view and the perspectives of different industries, to come up with what feels like the right policy.”