Britain’s Health Minister confirmed on Saturday that it had found two cases of infection with the new omicron variant.
Tonight, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that there would be new austerity measures.
– We need to have targeted measures to contain infection with this variant and buy time for researchers so we know what we’re up against. And last but not least, we need to vaccinate more and get more doses of refreshment, says Johnson.
All must be tested and quarantined
Apart from denying entry to travelers from a number of South African countries, changes were also made upon arrival in the UK.
– We are now introducing a new testing regime. We won’t prevent people from traveling, but everyone arriving in the UK should take a test the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative answer, Johnson said.
In addition, the government has implemented several other measures.
- Infected people and close contact with people who test positive for the omicron variant should be quarantined for 10 days – regardless of their vaccine status.
- Snout rules in shops and public transport are tightened
The new steps will last for three weeks in the first instance.
Health authorities will also consider whether more groups should be offered refresher doses, and whether the interval between doses two and three should be shortened.
Thanks to South Africa
“As always with new varieties, there’s a lot we can’t figure out in the first place, but our researchers are learning more hour by hour,” says Johnson.
He said the UK had made positive progress with decreased hospital admissions and deaths and increased support for vaccinations and refresher doses.
– But it appears that omicron is spreading very quickly, and can spread among people who have been double-vaccinated, said Johnson, who thanked those who discovered the new variant.
“I want to thank the researchers in South Africa who discovered it and spread the information around the world,” Johnson said.
At the same time, South African authorities feel that they are being punished with entry restrictions as a result of the discovery.
“Excellent scientific work should be appreciated, not punished,” South Africa’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Starting today, Norway has introduced quarantine requirements for travelers from eight South African countries.
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