Boris Johnson calls for tighter COVID restrictions amid rise in omicron variant

Johnson said it was time to impose stricter measures to prevent a spike of hospitalizations and deaths as the new coronavirus variant spreads rapidly in the community.

“It has become increasingly clear that omicron is growing much faster than the previous delta variant and is spreading rapidly all around the world,” he said in a press conference. “Most worryingly, there is evidence that the doubling time of omicron could currently be between two and three days.”

Johnson said 568 cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed so far across the U.K., and “the true number is certain to be much higher.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. 

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in parliament in London, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.  (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

COVID-19 OMICRON VARIANT BRINGS UNPOPULAR RESTRICTIONS

He said while there wasn’t yet comprehensive data on how dangerous omicron is, rising hospitalization rates in South Africa, where the variant was first detected, suggested it has the potential to cause harm.

Scientists at the U.K. Health Security Agency said they expected the omicron variant to become the dominant strain in Britain in the next two to four weeks. The agency said so far most cases were located in London and southeast England.

A large gathering of students over Halloween weekend has prompted a high school in New York to close, according to a local report. 

A large gathering of students over Halloween weekend has prompted a high school in New York to close, according to a local report. 

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