Boris Johnson is expected to announce the lifting of at least some Covid restrictions in England tomorrow as he prepares to meet with his cabinet to discuss the latest data.
Number 10 last night said “the latest data is encouraging, with cases beginning to fall” and that the Prime Minister would “update parliament” tomorrow afternoon.
It comes after health secretary Sajid Javid today told MPs he was “cautiously optimistic” the government would “substantially reduce restrictions” on 26 January when they are set to expire.
The UK recorded 94,432 Covid cases yesterday, which brought the seven-day average below 100,000 for the first time since 23 December.
There are also signs hospitalisations are starting to dip, while the amount of patients in intensive care has only very slightly increased since the start of the Omicron wave.
Javid said “these restrictions should not stay in place a day longer than absolutely necessary”, with mandatory Covid certificates and work from home advice likely set to be dropped.
“Due to these pharmaceutical defences and the likelihood that we have already reached the peak of the case numbers of hospitalisations, I am cautiously optimistic that we will be able to substantially reduce restrictions next week,” he said.
David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s Covid chief, told the BBC that the end of the pandemic was near for the UK.
“We can see how the threat will become contained and we can see the journey ahead, but it’s just that getting there is going to be tough,” he said.
“Restrictions are making a difference because they reduce the number of contacts people have, and restrictions therefore are helpful and it’s important that there is no premature promising that restrictions will end at a particular time or we’ll be able to get back to normal at a particular time.”
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “The Omicron variant continues to pose a significant threat and the pandemic is not over.
“Infections remain high but the latest data is encouraging, with cases beginning to fall.”