'Storm of infection': Country refuses to rule out Christmas lockdown

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Christmas is just around the corner but the promise of a lockdown-free festive season cannot be guaranteed in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned there's a "storm of infection", urging people to get their booster shots as Covid cases surge across Europe.

When asked whether the UK government could introduce a Christmas lockdown, Mr Johnson said "we cannot rule anything out". 

"We don’t yet know the extent to which this new wave will sweep up on our shores but history shows that we cannot afford to be complacent," Mr Johnson said in a press conference on Monday (local time).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at a press conference in front of a blue background with the English flag behind him.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a 'storm of infections' in Europe. Source: YouTube/ 10 Dowling Street

“Those countries with lower vaccination rates have tended to see bigger surges in infection and in turn been forced to respond with harsher measures, while those countries with higher vaccination rates have so far fared better.

“This shows us once again that if we want to control the epidemic here in the UK, and if we want to avoid new restrictions on our daily lives, we must all get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty echoed the prime minister's message about booster shots.

"There is clear evidence that having a booster significantly increases your protection at all age ranges and we strongly recommend people to do so," he said.

A man wearing a beanie, puffer jacket and a face mask walks past Christmas decorations with a Santa Claus in the background.
Mr Johnson did not rule out lockdowns over Christmas. Source: EPA via AAP

'Blizzard of the east'

However, despite the threat of a new wave of coronavirus infections in other European countries, Mr Johnson said there was no need to plan for restrictions at the moment.

"We don't see anything in the data at the moment to suggest that we need to go to Plan B, we're sticking with Plan A," Mr Johnson said on a visit to a medical centre in east London on Monday.

“But what we have certainly got to recognise is there is a storm of infection out there in parts of Europe, you can see those numbers ticking up very sharply in some of our continental friends.

"We’ve just got to recognise that there is always a risk that a blizzard could come from the east again, as the months get colder."

In 2020, the UK was plunged into a lockdown just days before Christmas. 

Austria locks down unvaccinated residents

As case numbers explode in Europe, governments are being forced to reintroduce restrictions to try and curb infections.

On Monday, Austria imposed a lockdown on unvaccinated people over 12 years of age in an attempt to quell the onslaught of cases as winter approaches.

Germany is also considering tighter measures and Britain announced they are expanding the eligibility of booster shots to younger adults, with people aged 40 to 49 to be offered a booster of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine six months after their second dose.

Covid-19 spreads more easily in the winter months when people gather inside.

According to Reuters, Europe accounted for more than half of the seven-day average of infections globally and about half of the latest deaths last week, the highest levels since April last year when the virus was at its initial peak in Italy.

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