Boris Johnson has warned the rising COVID cases in Europe could be seen in the UK if people do not get their booster jabs fast enough.
Both the Netherlands and Austria today announced fresh lockdown rules in the coming days as cases rise again in some European countries.
The prime minister said: “I’m seeing the storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent and I’ve got to be absolutely frank with people, we’ve been here before and we remember what happened when a wave starts rolling in.
“The UK has built up a huge amount of protection thanks to the vaccine rollout and people’s amazing willingness to come forward and get jabbed.
“What I’m saying today is the urgency of getting that booster jab is more evident than ever.
“If you can get it, it’s a great thing, the levels of protection it gives you are terrific so over 50s we’re now calling forward, they should come and get it.
“What I’m also saying is if we don’t do it fast enough we can see the potential risks to the state of the pandemic in what’s happening in other parts of Europe.”
Cases have been dropping across the UK since mid-October but infection rates are still much higher than most of Europe.
The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, released today, shows there was a decrease in COVID infections across most regions in England in the week up to 6 November but there are early signs of an increase in the East Midlands.
The prevalence of infections in England has also fallen to about one in 60 people for that week, dropping from one in 50 in the previous fortnight, which was the highest level of 2021.
Hospital admissions and deaths have also been lower in the current third wave across England than in the corresponding week in the second wave this February, the latest ONS data shows.
Mr Johnson said the numbers were “encouraging” but it was not clear if the drift downwards will continue.
He added: “I’m looking at what’s happening overseas and simply saying to the British people, who’ve been absolutely brilliant in getting jabs in the past, now is the time to get your boosters.”