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Emergency Cobra meeting called between four nations as Omicron surges

Michael Gove will chair the Cobra meeting this afternoon.

Senior ministers from all four nations of the UK are to meet later this afternoon amid a surge in Omicron cases.

Communities Secretary Michael Gove will chair a Cobra meeting with the devolved administrations on Wednesday afternoon, the PA news agency understands.

The meeting will take place at around 5pm with representatives of the Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Boris Johnson will lead a Covid press conference from Downing Street later today as fears mount over the spread of Omicron.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied at the podium at 5pm by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and NHS England’s Dr Nikki Kanani.

‘Act now or Omicron will cost lives’

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon warned Scots to “act now” and stop Omicron causing more deaths and doing “untold damage” to the country.

In a personal plea to the nation on TV on Tuesday evening, she warned there could be up to 15,000 Omicron infections per day if the virus is allowed to spiral out of control.

People in Scotland have been asked to restrict socialising to just three households over the Christmas period to battle the surge of the new variant.

UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive Dr Jenny Harries said the Omicron Covid variant is “probably the most significant threat since the start of the pandemic”.

She told MPs on Wednesday that the “very rapid rises” is causing “some temporary pressure” on testing service.

Government websites reported that rapid lateral flow tests were “not available right now”, the third day of problems as demand surged across the UK.

People trying to book walk-in PCR tests also encountered problems, with some being directed to sites several miles away or being told no slots were available.

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