Coronavirus latest as officials reportedly consider two-week lockdown; Boris Johnson presented with Plan C options; SAGE warns tougher COVID restrictions must be brought in “very soon”; weekend football fixtures postponed.
Queen guitarist Brian May has revealed he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Writing on Instagram, with a picture of the dreaded double-lined lateral flow test, he said: “Yep. The shocking day finally came for me.
“The dreaded double red line. And yes – definitely NO sympathy please – it has been a truly horrible few days, but I’m OK.
“And I will tell the tale. PLEASE take extra care out there, good folks. This thing is incredibly transmissible.
“You really do NOT want it messing up YOUR Christmas. With love – Bri”.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has announced that the country will go into lockdown from Sunday morning, in an effort to limit new COVID-19 infections in the wake of the Omicron variant.
Mr Rutte told a news conference: “The Netherlands is again shutting down.
“That is unavoidable because of the fifth wave that is coming at us with the Omicron variant.”
It will reportedly run until 14 January, according to local media.
Across the Atlantic – two crew members from the US Air Force who travelled with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on his foreign trips to the UK and South East Asia last week have tested positive for COVID-19.
It means that three people in total from that trip have now contracted the virus.
A spokesperson said: “Both aircrew members were fully vaccinated.
“Neither had come into close contact with the Secretary of State or senior staff.”
They added that those in question had been removed from the trip, saying: “One aircrew member is asymptomatic, while the other is experiencing mild symptoms.
“Both are following host nation COVID-19 protocols.”
Demonstrations against COVID restrictions have also been going on in France, Italy and Germany today.
In Germany, people took to the streets of Hamburg to fight back against more restrictions.
Protesters also hit the French capital to object to the country’s health pass, which is used to get into the majority of public spaces.
And in Italy, demonstrators gathered in Turin to protest against the COVID health pass.
The officers were injured at a protest in Parliament Square, London, while attempting to escort a police motorcyclist through the area at around 12.30pm.
Footage from the protest shows shoving between police and protesters.
At around 3pm, a group of demonstrators also stopped outside a shop on Regents Street and began “directing abuse” at people inside.
The group egged the shop until police intervened.
Police are now “closely monitoring” the demonstration but no arrests have been made yet.
More than 800,000 booster or third doses have been administered in the last day – taking the total to more than 27 million.
Meanwhile, a further 32,099 first vaccine doses have been handed out – along with 41,221 second jabs.
Infections are slightly down on the 93,045 reported yesterday, although figures are usually lower at the weekend.
Earlier, we reported that 10,059 confirmed Omicron cases were reported in the last 24 hours – although the true figure is likely to be higher.
The health secretary has shared a video from Chelsea FC’s grounds, which has been turned into a vaccine centre this weekend.
He said it was “great to see thousands of people coming forward” – including his daughter, who was given a booster jab at the stadium.
High streets in the Netherlands became busy this afternoon following reports the country is likely to go into a strict lockdown from tomorrow.
Under the expected measures, non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms will be closed between tomorrow and 14 January.
The main shopping street in Leiden has been thronged with people looking for last-minute gifts, with some stores experiencing queues outside.
“It’s normally busy before Christmas but this much busier than usual,” cosmetics shop manager Ali Windster told Reuters news agency.
Authorities in the port city of Rotterdam also urged shoppers on Twitter to stay at home because the city centre was “too busy”.
A news conference announcing the tougher restrictions is expected this evening.
England is seeing Omicron infections doubling every two days – faster than the growth rate in March 2020 – according to the latest minutes from a meeting of government scientists.
SAGE said it is now “almost certain” there are hundreds of thousands of new Omicron infections a day – much higher than the reported figures.
Even if transmission is reduced soon, hospital admissions will reach “high levels” in about two weeks, the scientists said.
England will likely see between 1,000 and 2,000 admissions per day by the end of the year.
However, SAGE said that if more restrictions are not introduced then there could be a peak of at least 3,000 admissions per day.