A government minister has told people to avoid “snogging under the mistletoe” to prevent spreading Covid this Christmas.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston programme, work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey said “we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us” but warned: “For what it’s worth, I don’t think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe.”

She continued:

“(You) don’t need to do things like that. But I think we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us and that’s why we’re working so hard to get the deployment of as many vaccines as possible.”

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It comes as countries rush to stop omicron in its tracks, following its unwanted emergence in the world. The variant has been found in 22 countries and, while the World Health Organisation has said there is no evidence yet that it is vaccine resistant, it has 40 mutations, triggering fears from scientists that it could well be more deadly and more transmissible.

Ultimately, to confirm or placate these fears, more research and evidence must be collated – and it is being collated. But in the meantime, the UK has expanded its booster jab rollout and has reintroduced mask rules on public transport and shops. It has also tightened PCR rules for people travelling into the UK from foreign countries.

Coffey also said kissing should be avoided with “people you don’t already know” which gave us major flashbacks to that excruciating and – as it turned out – prescient Kay Burley and Matt Hancock chat.

She also said more people should get their vaccines to give the country the best chance of fighting the virus.

No snogging under the mistletoe though. What a shame.

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