This short update is to keep you all aware of the rapidly changing picture with regard to the Omicron Variant.
The Prime Minister together with his two Henchmen the CSO and the CMO. spelt out the current situation which you now know about. Two linked cases have now been identified in the UK, one in Chelmsford Essex and the other in Nottingham. Both cases are in isolation as are their immediate family contacts. Enhanced contract tracing has started, centred on the affected individuals. Further cases have been found in Israel, The Czech Republic, Belgium and Holland.
The number of cases in South Africa is now over 77.
Four more countries have moved to the Red list with immediate effect. The countries are Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
Perhaps for most of us the most important action taken today is to say that all people returning to the UK from anywhere in the world must do a PCR test and then self isolate until they have a negative result. This means everyone coming into the UK will isolate for at least 24 hours.
The PM asked us all to increase our use of masks indoors and on public transport. We are waiting on the JCVI to determine further guidance which could become mandatory.
All contacts of positive cases must isolate for 10 days.
As vaccine is the most important defence, the Government awaits guidance on reducing the age from which boosters are given, and whether to give second doses to all children and first doses to the younger children. There are likely to be many changes in the future.
The Government have a three-pronged attack. Firstly, to limit cases, Secondly, to limit spread and thirdly, to booster defences. The defences we have include doing more boosters, and development of the new effective anti-viral drugs.
When pushed about Christmas the PM said he could certainly promise that this Christmas would be better than last year !
The changes hinted at tonight do not mention changes in hospitality yet. The hints do not amount to all of plan B yet.
However, plan B is what most of us stayed with, As the extent of the problems with the new variant are researched further, we shall see more guidance. Please follow this carefully. The vaccine manufacturers all say they can modify the vaccine for optimal efficacy as necessary and produce it quicky. For now, stay safe, wear your masks and get a further supply before there is a shortage again. I am sure you will need them into next year.
The Government plan a full review in 3 weeks when we should have the answers to the questions we have. There is no need to panic if fully immunised and following all the basics of hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing.