Health secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that two people in the UK have been found to be infected with ‘Omicron’ the new Covid variant.
He said the cases found in Essex and Nottingham were connected and linked to South Africa.
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Speaking at a Downing Street press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government is looking at making masks mandatory in shops and on transport and that details will be set out by the health secretary early next week.
Chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty says it is not yet clear whether the variant can escape the vaccine but evidence suggests there is “a reasonable chance” it can partially dodge it. He says the booster jabs will strengthen any vaccine response, hence the push to get more of the population boosted.
However, he also claims his “greatest worry” is whether the British public would accept fresh restrictions in the face of the new variant.
BBC reports: Johnson says rules on face coverings will be tightened up in shops and public transport.
The rules will be reviewed in three weeks.
“We don’t know how effective our vaccines will be” against the new variant, Johnson says.
“But we have good reasons to believe they will provide at least some measure of protection.”
The PM has announced that all travellers entering the UK must take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and must self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.
Boris Johnson stresses he does not want to stop travel and border measures can only slow down the spread of any new variant – not stop it.
He says he hopes he will be able to lift measures at a later date.
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