Boris Johnson is set to update the nation about latest measures to tackle Covid-19 after two cases of the new ‘omicron’ variant were confirmed in the UK.
The prime minister will hold a press conference at No 10 alongside Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance, where he will ‘set out further measures’, Downing Street said.
The news comes after four new countries – Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola – were added to the UK’s red list, a day after it was announced that flights from six southern African countries would be temporarily banned after the new variant was detected.
Omicron, which first emerged in South Africa, is thought to have a higher reinfection rate than other variants of Covid-19, though as yet more research is needed to understand its impact.
Health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed today, November 27, that two cases of the new variant had been confirmed in Chelmsford in Essex, and Nottingham. The cases are believed to be connected and linked to southern Africa.
Sky News reports that ‘targeted testing’ is set to be rolled out in areas where the omicron variant is detected.
In a statement, Javid said:
This is a real reminder that this pandemic is far from over. If there is one thing that everyone can be doing, right now, is if they are eligible, please take your vaccine, whether it’s your first shot, second shot, or your booster jab.
Omicron has been designated a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation, and has so far been detected in Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel, with suspected cases in Germany and the Czech Republic.
Johnson’s press conference is set to take place today, at 5.00pm.