A PUBLIC health director has urged the government to look at reimposing some lockdown restrictions to stem the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Blackburn with Darwen's Professor Dominic Harrison said reversing the lifting of the infection controls might be needed before Christmas as he revealed the borough Covid-19 case rate was 417 per 100,000 residents.

He said more than than half the cases were the Omicron variant with Darwen hitting a rate of 1,093 Covid-19 cases per 100,000.

New cases of coronavirus in the borough are now running at 620 a week, Prof Harrison revealed.

His Lancashire County Council counterpart Dr Sakthi Karunanithi told an Lancashire Resilience Forum press conference that there were now 2,580 Omicron cases in the authority's area which covers 12 boroughs including Ribble Valley, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale.

He said the government needed to take 'swift, decisive action' to stop the spread of the highly transmissible variant.

Prof Harrison echoed his comments and said: "I think the government needs to make the decision as soon as possible.

"The obvious way of controlling further spread, as well people getting their boosters, is to do some kind of reversal through the lockdown lifting steps that we’ve already taken this year.

"Because reversing through those steps is one of the key ways in which we will reduce further transmission.

"I think we need to be conscious of that any actions we can take to reduce social mixing are going to be really important.

"Of course at this point anybody that contracts Covid from social mixing is probably going to have to self-isolate not just from others but from their household.

"So anybody catching Covid now is going to spoil their own Christmas.

"I would urge people to consider very carefully any social mixing and whether that’s important enough to put their own Christmas at risk.

"I think Omicron will the dominant variant across all of Lancashire by the end of the year.

"And the Omicron surge will rise on top of an existing rising Delta wave."

Dr Karunanithi said the county as whole could see 8,000 Omicron cases week by the end of the year.

He said: ""Very soon we’re going to have a lot of cases in Lancashire particularly in the working age population and we are preparing for managing the risk of not having staff in many, many workplaces including NHS and social care.

"I would say we we need to continue to do the basics beautifully.

"I can see the next year being more positive than 2021 has been. We’ve got a number of things in our tool kit."

LRF chair and Blackburn with Darwen Council chief executive Denise Park said: "Our key message is vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. "