20 Dec 2021

Britain becomes an Omicron hotspot

From Morning Report, 8:25 am on 20 December 2021

In Europe, several countries have introduced tough new restrictions to tackle Covid, as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the continent.

A month-long lockdown has come into force in the Netherlands.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said immediate action, including the closure of schools, was needed to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed.

In the UK, where there has been another substantial rise in the number of Omicron cases overnight, with more than 12,000 new infections taking the total past 37-000.

The total number of new Covid cases overnight was slightly down but still cleared 80,000, making Britain one of the world's hotspots.

One in every 50 people are currently an active case.

British health minister Sajid Javed won't rule out introducing more restrictions after scientific advisors warned cabinet measures could be needed within days to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed.

UK correspondent Vince McAviney spoke to Corin Dann.