The government needs to “reserve the possibility” of bringing in new Covid rules in England as cases of the Omicron variant surge before Christmas, the prime minister has said.

Boris Johnson did not announce any new measures but said ministers were “looking at all kinds of things”.

The PM said the data was being reviewed “hour by hour” but there were still “some things that we need to be clearer about before we decide to go further”.

He urged people to exercise caution.

A further 91,743 Covid cases were reported across the UK on Monday, the second highest daily total on record.

The government’s scientific advisers say new restrictions may be required very soon – and have suggested reducing the size of groups that can meet and closing venues where there is a high risk of transmission.

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Speaking after a two-hour cabinet meeting, Mr Johnson said the arguments for taking action were “very, very finely balanced”.

He added: “Unfortunately I must say to people that we will have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to protect the public, to protect public health, to protect our NHS. And we won’t hesitate to take that action.”

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