Boris Johnson announces steps designed to contain the new spread Omicron coronavirus mutantAs the UK Chief Medical Officer warned, there was a reasonable possibility of a “vaccine escape”.
Persons entering the UK must undergo a PCR test within 2 days of arrival and must be self-quarantined after the UK reports the first case of a new variant until a negative result is obtained.
Contact with suspected cases of Omicron should be isolated for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. Face masks are required in shops and public transport, but not in pubs and restaurants. All measures will be reviewed within 3 weeks.
At a press conference in Downing Street, Professor Chris Whitty said that the first hospitalization of this type was “at least some vaccine evasion is possible with this variant” from British health officials. .. This means that variants may be able to circumvent vaccine protection, but Whitti argued that vaccines are still likely to help prevent serious illness and death.
The Prime Minister said: “Our scientists are learning a lot over time, and it seems that Omicron spreads very rapidly and can spread among double-vaccinated people.
“There are also very widespread mutations, which means that they differ significantly from the previous composition of the virus, which, at least in part, may reduce vaccine protection over time. there is.”
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization was asked to consider whether the booster vaccine should be extended to <40 years of age and whether the gap between the second and third doses should be reduced from 6 months. rice field.
Scientists continue to evaluate new variants, but the government has not yet rolled out Covid-19 Plan B. This includes home guidance and a Covid-19 passport for large events.
When asked if the government should enable the entire set of measures under Plan B, one Sage adviser told FT: [about Omicron] Let’s hope it turns out to be almost true and not. That way, Plan B will not be strict enough to prevent this. “
“I’m confident,” Johnson told reporters, “this Christmas will be much better than last year’s Christmas.”
New measures have been introduced as variants continue to spread in Europe and scientists compete to assess new levels of risk.
The UK Health Department said one was confirmed in Chelmsford and the second in Nottingham. They were linked and connected to a trip to southern Africa, officials said.
World Health Organization early on Saturday Prompted a restrained approach To the variant to ensure that the country reporting the case is not punished.
On Friday, WHO called OmicronVariant of concern, “Skip the” interest “specification in the middle.
Health Minister Sajid Javid said inspection capabilities in the affected areas have skyrocketed and a new travel ban will apply to four more African countries starting Sunday.
“We don’t hesitate to take further action when needed,” said Javid.
According to scientists and officials, the results of tests to measure the response of Omicron to vaccines and the immune system are not expected for a couple of weeks.
Since Thursday, global travel has become increasingly restricted, with the United States, EU, Switzerland and the United Kingdom imposing restrictions on travel to southern Africa and many other countries.
South African scientists are sending virus samples to biosecurity agencies around the world, including the UK Health Security Agency and the government’s Porton Down Institute.
Meanwhile, the day after the case was identified in Belgium, the first cases were identified in Germany and the Czech Republic, providing further evidence that new variants are being sown in Europe.
Dutch officials were investigating whether 61 people who tested positive for Covid-19 were infected with the Omicron variant after arriving on two flights from South Africa on Friday.
According to Dutch health officials, they were placed in hotel quarantine for seven days. “Positive test results will be examined as soon as possible to determine if this is related to a new variant of interest,” said Dutch health officials.
Omicron seems to be behind a significant surge in South African cases. Its high transmissibility has not yet been confirmed, but WHO said it appears to have growth benefits.
Some of the mutations were previously associated with antigenic escape. Mutants that are much more contagious than Delta, already more contagious than their ancestral coronavirus, or capable of breaking through vaccine protection can seriously impede global recovery from a pandemic.
Additional reports by Oliver Burns and Maileen Khan
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