Ministers confirm new measures to stem the spread of new Covid-19 variant

November 30th, 2021

UK ministers have confirmed new measures to try and limit the spread of a new variant of Covid-19.

The Omicron variant, which has been identified in the UK after positive cases were first flagged in Southern Africa, is highly mutated. There are concerns that the variant will spread faster and it could limit protection provided by vaccines.

Scientists across the world are currently evaluating data and testing vaccines to try and gain an insight into how quickly the virus will spread, how severe symptoms will be in comparison to other variants and how effective existing vaccines will prove.

Concerns were first raised in the UK on Thursday 25th November following positive cases of the new variant in African countries, including South Africa and Botswana.

The government quickly introduced travel bans, putting several African nations on the red list. Over the weekend, the first two positive cases were identified in the UK and other countries, including Italy, the Netherlands, Israel and Belgium also reported positive Omicron cases.

In response to the new variant, which some scientists believe is by far the worst to emerge since the breakout in Wuhan, ministers have announced new measures to try and stem the tide and buy time.

In a press conference held on Saturday 27th November, the Prime Minister announced that masks will now be mandatory in shops and on public transport and PCR testing will once again be required for travellers coming to the UK.

The day 2 PCR test had recently been replaced with a lateral flow test. More countries were also added to the red list and ministers have not ruled out further travel restrictions.

The UK’s moves have been echoed across the world, with many countries implementing travel restrictions and some, including Israel, putting a blanket ban on foreign travel for non-citizens for 2 weeks.

Reports suggest that more cases will be recorded in the coming days, with Scotland confirming 6 cases of the Omicron variant on Monday 29th November.

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