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British officials ‘keeping a close eye’ on rising COVID-19 cases


British officials ‘keeping a close eye’ on rising COVID-19 cases
PM Boris Johnson has told the cabinet the UK faces "a difficult winter". (PA Media)

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London – Downing Street says it is “keeping a very close eye” on rising coronavirus (COVID-19) cases – but the cabinet has not yet discussed rolling out its Plan B to control the pandemic in England this winter.

Daily cases have been above 40 000 for seven days in a row, with 43 738 new COVID-19 cases reported on Tuesday.

Another 223 deaths have been reported, the highest since March, but Tuesday figures are often bigger than others.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told the cabinet the UK faces “a difficult winter”.

Under the government’s winter plan, if the measures currently in place are not enough to prevent “unsustainable pressure” on the NHS, then steps like wearing face coverings in some settings and introducing vaccine passports could be considered as part of Plan B.

The prime minister told ministers the government had “a plan in place to steer the country through this period” and that people should “continue to follow the guidance and get their jabs when called upon”.

Downing Street said Johnson had stressed that the government’s autumn and winter plan “continues to keep the virus under control”.

No. 10 said the government was “not complacent” about rising cases but that, due to the vaccination programme, “the levels we are seeing in both patients admitted to hospital and deaths are far lower than we saw in previous peaks”.

“Clearly we’re keeping a very close eye on rising case rates – the most important message for the public to understand is the vital importance of the booster programme and indeed for those children who are eligible to come forward and get our jab,” the prime minister’s spokesman said.

Children aged 12 to 15 in England will be able to book their jabs at vaccination centres, rather than through school, after concerns about rollout delays.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs younger teenagers would be able to book their jabs outside of school to “make the most of half-term”.

Meanwhile, officials say they are monitoring a new descendant of the Delta variant of COVID-19, which is causing a growing number of infections.

Downing Street said that there was “no evidence to suggest it is more easily spread”.