London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that the United Kingdom is in "an incomparably" better position than this time last year in terms of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the country currently seeing a record number of infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
"Whatever the challenges that fate continues to throw in our way and whatever the anxieties we may have about the weeks and months ahead, particularly about omicron and the growing numbers in hospitals ... we can say one thing with certainty - our position this December the 31st is incomparably better than last year," Johnson said in his New Year's message posted on social media by his office. The prime minister also hailed the success of the COVID-19 vaccine programme and the "heroic" public response to the booster campaign, claiming that the government's target to offer a third dose to every eligible adult in the UK had been met.
Johnson, who has resisted calls to impose new COVID-19 social restrictions in England to tackle the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant, urged people, however, to be "cautious," amid fears that the National Health Service could be overwhelmed by a surge in positive cases in the first week of January.
On Thursday, the UK recorded a further 189,213 COVID-19 cases, a new daily record since the pandemic began in March 2020, while in England alone, the number of patients in hospital climbed to 11,452, its highest level since February.