The Prime Minister confirmed new temporary and precautionary measures following the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK.
The Omicron variant contains a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome.
Two cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Essex and Nottingham. Targeted testing and contact tracing is underway.
Early indications suggest that this variant may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and that current vaccines may be less effective against it. A rapid rise in infections in South Africa has been attributed to the spread of this new variant of Covid-19.
Targeted measures will be introduced as a precautionary measure to slow the spread of the variant while we collect more information.
- All international arrivals must pass a PCR test on day 2 and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
- All contacts of suspected Omicron cases should self-isolate, regardless of their immunization status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
- Face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and public transport from next week. All hospitality settings will be exempt.
English Health Secretary Sajid Javid has called on the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization to consider quickly expanding the boosters, as well as closing the gap between the second dose and the booster.
This could mean that people under 40 are offered a third jab and the third jab comes sooner than six months after your second.
Travel restrictions have already been put in place to slow the spread of the variant and protect our borders. From 4 a.m. on Sunday, South Africa, Botswana, Lesostho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibi, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola will be added to the red list of UK travel.
Anyone entering the UK from these 10 countries will need to self-quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
Wales has already said it will use the same travel rules – while the mask rules are already in place.
The new measures will be reviewed within three weeks.