UK, Netherlands considering new coronavirus restrictions

Government officials in the U.K. are considering imposing new restrictions around Christmas time to get coronavirus infections under control, according to media reports.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was presented with a range of plans to address the recent surge, driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, according to the Financial Times. The paper cited insiders who said options range from softer measures like “mild guidance” to a full lockdown.

The Times reported that a two-week ban on indoor meetings is due to be presented by ministers. However the proposal hasn’t been endorsed by Johnson.

The country experienced its worst day for new coronavirus infections on Friday, with more than 93,000 new cases. The Omicron variant that is driving the surge is largely able to side step immunity granted by a normal course of vaccination or previous infection, though booster doses do appear to give some protection. Hospitalizations in the country remain below previous waves.

The BBC cited leaked minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) that state new measures are needed “very soon” in order to avert a rise of hospitalizations to the level of 3,000 a day.

A similar situation is playing out in the Netherlands, where the country’s emergency response committee has advised for a lockdown of all non-essential shops and venues to get Omicron cases under control. The country’s cabinet of ministers are expected to adopt the recommendation on Saturday.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email for a complimentary trial. 

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