THE NEW OMICRON VARIANT
The Somerset Guardian, 1st December 2021
This week, the Prime Minister wrote to all Members of Parliament to set out the Government’s response to the new Omicron variant, which I had, until now, assumed was pronounced O-micron rather than Omi-cron and I think is the American preference. It is the variant that has recently been identified in southern Africa.
It is important to remember that the United Kingdom’s plan against COVID-19 has been working. We have had the fastest vaccine roll-out in Europe and the quickest booster campaign. Although cases have remained relatively high, hospitalisations and deaths have, thankfully, fallen.
Whilst only a few cases have been detected here thus far it does appear that Omicron spreads rapidly. Therefore, it may be prudent to take targeted and proportionate measures while scientists are able to ascertain how the new strain will manifest.
The Government has taken steps to protect the UK with ten countries being added to the red list. Anyone who enters the UK will have to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and self-isolate until they have a negative result.
It is sensible to try to slow down the spread of this variant so all contacts of those who test positive with a suspected case of Omicron will need to self-isolate for ten days, regardless of their vaccination status. Moreover, rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport have been tightened and anyone who is unvaccinated is encouraged to get the jab. Boosters are also advised for those who have had the immunisation. This is the best way to help speed up the return to normal.
Slowing down the spread of any new variant helps and vaccines are proving their effectiveness but ultimately, we will learn to live with Covid, which we can ameliorate but not eliminate.
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