On Sunday, officials in Britain said they were still gauging the potential impact of the new variant. But increasing the uptake of vaccines and boosters would be the “surest defense,” Dominic Raab, Britain’s deputy prime minister, said to the BBC.
“Our message is this: Enjoy Christmas this year. The vaccine rollout means we’re in a position to do so,” Mr. Raab said.
Britain reported an average of 44,385 daily cases last week, an 11 percent increase compared to two weeks ago. Deaths, in contrast, have decreased by 20 percent in that time frame.
Britain levied new restrictions last week to combat Omicron, including a requirement that all international travelers take a coronavirus test within 48 hours of departure, and an additional test within two days after arrival. The government also mandated the wearing of masks in indoor spaces like public transport and shopping centers.
Some critics and experts, fearing another spike in cases like that of last winter, which sent the nation into a monthslong national lockdown, said they worried that the new rules had been imposed too late.