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Covid Omicron: New rules ‘save us more time’ against variant, says Boris Johnson

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What rule changes are happening and why? ITV News Editor-in-Chief Emily Morgan explains


New measures to take effect across England on Tuesday will save us time as scientists get to the bottom of it Covid-19 Omicron variants threat level, insisted the Prime Minister.

From 4 a.m. on Tuesday face coverings are compulsory in shops and on public transport in England, while all international arrivals must pass a PCR test before the end of the second day and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases should also self-isolate, regardless of age or vaccination status.

Boris Johnson said the measures would help slow the spread of the variants, with two more cases confirmed on Monday, bringing the total to 11.


What do we know about the variant and how worried should we be?


The measures that come into force are proportionate and responsible, and will save us time in the face of this new variant, Mr Johnson said.

Based on everything we know, our vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defense, so it’s more important than ever that people come forward when they are eligible for a booster.

Not only will today’s measures help us slow the spread of variants, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we’ve all worked so hard for.

Masks will be mandatory in shops from Tuesday Credit: Pennsylvania

It comes after confirmation everything people aged 18 and over will be offered a booster vaccine as part of efforts to control the spread of variants.

Millions more people in the UK will become eligible for a third booster dose after initial evidence suggests that higher antibody levels may better protect against the variant.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) now recommends that all adults between the ages of 18 and 39 be offered a booster dose, in descending order of age.

People aged 40 and over are already eligible for a booster vaccine.

Changes to the vaccination program:

  • Adults aged 18 to 39 will be eligible for a booster

  • Young people between the ages of 12 and 15 will be entitled to a second dose

  • Severely immunocompromised people may receive their fourth dose


Coronavirus: what you need to know


Booster doses should be given no earlier than three months after people receive their second dose of an original vaccine, according to the JCVI, reducing the current wait by three months.

In another tip, young people aged 12 to 15 should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, no earlier than 12 weeks after their first dose.


What are scientists afraid of this strain? ITV News political editor Robert Peston explains


England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told a briefing in Downing Street that variants of the coronavirus were inevitable and that Omicron was the new kid on the block for now.

He suggested the UK was in uncharted territory as to whether it would take root.

He added: I think it’s true to say that scientists around the world, not just in the UK, unfortunately agree that this one is of growing concern.

He said that the number of mutations present, already on the first principle, makes us fear a possible effect on the effectiveness of the vaccine.


Are companies already feeling the impact of concerns about this variant? ITV News Economics Editor-in-Chief Joel Hills explains


Urging people not to panic, Prof Van-Tam said there were still uncertainties about the transmissibility of the variant and its impact on the severity of the disease.

Regarding the effects of the new variants and the duration of the vaccine’s effectiveness, here I want to make it clear that not everything is pessimistic at this point, he said.

I don’t want people to panic at this point.

If the efficacy of the vaccine is reduced, as seems quite likely to some extent, the most important effects will probably be the prevention of infections and hopefully the lesser effects in the prevention of serious illness.

Professor Van-Tam said the recall campaign has never been more vital than then.


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