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Boris Johnson issues Christmas address to the nation as Covid cases rise



Boris Johnson has urged the British public to get vaccinated and ‘take extra care’ as coronavirus cases rise across the UK in his Christmas address to the nation.

The prime minister’s Christmas message will be released on his official Twitter account this morning (Friday).

In this year’s annual message, Mr Johnson encouraged the public to come forward for their booster jabs and paid tribute to the NHS staff working over Christmas, care workers and everyone involved in the vaccination campaign.

READ MORE: NHS in danger of being ‘overwhelmed’ by Omicron surge, Sajid Javid warns

He said: “After two years of this pandemic, I can’t say that we are through it. How can I? When Omicron is surging, when we all know, we must together try to stop the spread of this new variant.

“We must test ourselves and take extra care when meeting elderly or vulnerable relatives. We know that things remain difficult.

“But for millions of families up and down the country, I hope and believe that this Christmas is, and will be, significantly better than the last, in this vital respect, that we can celebrate together with those we love and raise our glasses to those who can’t be with us.

“And if this year you need a bigger turkey and there are more sprouts to peel and more washing up to do, then that is all to the good, because these rituals matter so deeply.”

He said he hoped people would enjoy the festive season “all the more keenly because of what we had to miss last year”.

He paid tribute to everyone involved in the vaccination effort and thanked people for coming forward for their jabs.

“If the pile of scrumpled wrapping paper is bigger this year it is precisely because across the country, in the run up to Christmas, we have been giving each other an invisible and invaluable present,” he said.

“We have been getting that vaccination that protects us and stops us infecting others.

“And I hope I can be forgiven for taking pride in the immense spirit of neighbourliness that the people of this country have shown.

“Getting jabbed not just for themselves, for ourselves, but for friends and family and everyone we meet.”

He continued: “That, after all, is the teaching of Jesus Christ, whose birth is at the heart of this enormous festival – that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves.

“And so let’s think of all those who are being good neighbours and thinking of others, all those in the NHS working over Christmas, our care workers, everyone involved in the incredible vaccination campaign, those looking after people who have lost loved ones this year, and who would otherwise be on their own, the many thousands of people who are selflessly self-isolating to keep others safe from Covid.

“And though the time for buying presents is theoretically running out, there is still a wonderful thing you can give your family and the whole country, and that is to get that jab, whether it is your first or second, or your booster, so that next year’s festivities are even better than this year’s.”

Earlier this week the prime minister confirmed no further restrictions will be put in place before Christmas.

Mr Johnson has been facing calls to outline his Covid strategy for the new year after leaders in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland having all announced new restrictions to tackle the Omicron variant.

Labour has called for “more clarity” from the government on its plans, with Lucy Powell, the shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, claiming Mr Johnson is unable to make calls on Covid data because he has “lost authority with the public”.

She told Sky News there is a “feeling” that Mr Johnson “is not actually able to take those decisions based very clearly on data because he’s got his own political problems, and he’s lost authority with the public in order to convey some of those messages”.

“The government must be working to something,” she said. “Why can’t we all know what that is, and have a clearer sense about what would happen when if some of those data points changed, and what wouldn’t happen when if some of those data points became more positive, as they are this morning?”

It comes in the wake of a series of allegations against the government around parties that were held in Downing Street to celebrate Christmas last year.

Reports suggest a number of gatherings were held by No 10 staff while the country was under strict coronavirus rules.

An investigation into the allegations has been launched – but Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the man who was in charge of investigating the festive gatherings “recused himself” following allegations of such events in his own department.

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