KEY Covid data that will sway Boris Johnson's decision on whether to slam on restrictions in the New Year has been revealed today.
The PM is expected to announce next week if tighter measures will be imposed to wrestle the spread of Omicron after mulling crunch hospitalisation stats.
Ministers are buoyed by a string of hugely positive studies showing Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
In major developments:
- All adults have now been offered a booster, Downing Street said
- NHS chiefs said more restrictions are not needed – yet
- The PM used his New Year message to tell Brits to get boosted
- Millions prepared to celebrate New Year's Eve in large crowds
- Yesterday was another record day with 189,213 daily cases
Mr Johnson last night promised the country is in an "incomparably better" position that last year to fight Covid as he decides on whether tougher rules are needed.
But he is keeping an especially close eye on hospitalisations amid warnings the NHS is coming under strain.
The number of Covid patients in wards rose to 11,452 yesterday – up 61 per cent on last week to the highest level since February.
However the figure includes patients who have tested positive for Covid in hospital without necessarily being treated for it.
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It means someone being treated for a broken leg – but who also has coronavirus – would be in the stats even if they're not severely ill.
Fresh stats published today showed around 33 per cent of all Covid positive people in hospital were found to have the virus as a secondary issue.
It means, while cases and admissions have risen, a large chunk of them were not serious enough to end up in hospital but ended up there for other reasons.
IN THE BALANCE
NHS chiefs believe the threshold for imposing new restrictions has not yet been crossed.
But Chris Hopson, head of NHS providers, this morning warned curbs should be clamped on "at real speed" if hospitals come under severe strain.
He told the BBC: "We know that the government has set a high threshold on introducing extra new restrictions.
"So on that basis, trust leaders can see why the government's arguing that in the absence of a surge of seriously ill patients coming into hospital, that threshold hasn't yet been crossed.
"But we still don't know if the surge will come and indeed we're exactly talking about the preparations that we're making or that surge right now.
"So in terms of restrictions, I think we're in exactly the same place we've been in for the last fortnight, which is the government needs to be ready to introduce tighter restrictions at real speed should they be needed."
The PM pleaded in his New Year Eve address: “I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated.
“The people who think the disease can’t hurt them, look at the people going into hospital now. That could be you.
“Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster. That could be you.
“So, make it your New Year’s resolution. Find a walk-in centre or make an online appointment. Get that jab and do something that will make 2022 a happy New Year for us all.”
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