The Prime Minister has said on Saturday afternoon that Omnicon can spread rapidly and could “in part reduce” our vaccines efforts and we need to buy time for our scientists to find out more about this new variant.
He warned, “This variant is spreading around the world.”
“There are many things that we just cannot know at this early stage,” then added, that it does appear Omicron “spreads very rapidly.”
He further warned that this is an “extensive mutation” that “might at least in part reduce the effectiveness of our vaccines.”
The “targeted measures now” will “buy time for our scientists” to know what we are “dealing with”, as well as facilitating more booster jabs in arms and keeping pressure off the NHS.
Johnson says Covid case numbers have remained relatively high but there have been falling cases and deaths, but the new Covid variant, Omicron, means England must bring in “targeted and proportionate measures now as a precaution.”
People across England must now wear a face coverings in shops and indoor settings and on public transport.
The Prime Minister said he is “asking all of you to help contain the spread of this variant by tightening up the rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport.”
Boris Johnson said that these measures will be temporary and will be reviewed in three weeks
“Right now this is the responsible course of action,” said Johnson.
COVID UPDATE: Face coverings will become compulsory on public transport and in shops. Not including hospitality. pic.twitter.com/pq3TdftcOB
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) November 27, 2021
Day two PCR tests will now be required for all international travellers, and he said, “We will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result.”
All close contacts of a positive Omicron case must self-isolate for 10 days regardless if you have had both jabs and even a booster.
The chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the ability of Omicron to “spread is clear” and “it’s spreading around the world.”
He said that there is a “reasonable chance” of there is a chance the current vaccines may not be as effective due to the number of mutations to the spike proteins, which vaccines target.
However, the scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said vaccines could still be sufficient to stop people getting severely ill, even if they catch the new variant.
In a statement, the UN public health body warned, “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.”
The Chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, Dr Angelique Coetzee, reiterated the World Health Organization’s (WHO) message, said that most of the cases they seen so far were “very mild.”
Speaking to BBC News she said, “From us as medical practitioners, we picked up, last week, the different clinical pictures, we looked at the advisory committees and so far what we have seen is very mild cases.
“We know there are a lot of mutations but no one can tell us at this stage if it means something, or if it is just going to fade away. We just don’t know.”