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Omicron Covid variant news latest: Third UK case confirmed as Sajid Javid says England ‘nowhere near’ tough restrictions


A THIRD case of the Omicron Covid variant has been confirmed in the UK - but Brits have been assured that England is 'nowhere near' tougher restrictions.

Speaking on Sky News on Sunday, health secretary Sajid Javid said people should “continue with their plans as normal for Christmas" - but warned it would be “irresponsible to make guarantees”.

But asked if there would be a return to harsher restrictions, Mr Javid add: “We are not there yet – we are nowhere near that.”

Read our Omicron live blog for the latest news and updates...

  • Australia hit by Omicron Covid variant

    AUSTRALIA has recorded its first cases of the Omicron Covid variant as it's feared the Ashes tests with England are in doubt.

    Tough border restrictions are in place and fears have been raised there’s a “50-50” chance at least one game won’t go ahead.

    Authorities in Australia said two overseas travellers who arrived in Sydney from the region became the first in the country to test positive for the new variant.

    The England squad is currently in Australia, preparing for the first Ashes test in Brisbane, which is due to start on December 8 in Brisbane.

    Already, the Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews said the fifth and final test in Perth in January is in doubt due to the state’s tough border control measures.

    "I'd probably say at the moment I'm 50-50," Matthews told Australia’s ABC broadcaster.

    "I'd gone as high as 97 per cent, but I've gone back to 50-50. We'll wait and see.”

  • What does Omicron mean in Greek?

    Omicron can trace its roots as a word back to Ancient Greece.

    In the system of Greek numerals, omicron has a value of 70 and is also derived from the Phonecian letter ‘ayin’.

    The Greek alphabet system was originally developed in Greece at around 1000 BC.

    It’s the direct or indirect ancestor of all modern European alphabets which itself was derived from the North Semitic alphabet via that of the Phoenicians.

    As it was formed the Greek alphabet was slightly modified through the addition and removal of several letters.

    In the past week, Omicron has come to the attention of the world as the name for the latest variant of Covid.

    The strain was initially called B.1.1.529 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was first reported by South Africa on Wednesday.

  • BREAKING: UK hit by THIRD case of Omicron

    A THIRD case of the Omicron Covid variant has been identified in the UK.

    The person tested positive after travelling to Britain from southern Africa where the variant originated.

    They are no longer in the UK, but the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is carrying out urgent testing in areas the positive case visited when they were likely to have been infectious.

    Read more here.

  • Explained: When do I need to take a PCR test to travel?

    Anyone who enters the UK from abroad will now be required to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they get a negative result.

    It is hoped the measures will buy scientists time to learn more about the Omicron variant.

    But there are fears it will also affect the recovery of the aviation industry that has already been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • When do the new travel rules start?

    Travel restrictions have already been implemented to slow the spread of the variant and protect our borders.

    From 04:00am Sunday November 28, South Africa, Botswana, Lesostho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibi, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola have been added to the UK’s travel red list.

    Anyone arriving from these destinations will need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of £2,285.

    Other targeted measures will be introduced from next week as a precaution to slow down the spread of the variant while experts gather more information.

    These are:

  • When Plan B could be introduced

    Boris Johnson spoke in a  Downing Street press conference on November 27, 2021 about a potential Plan B.

    He says the key response to Omicron has to be to buy time - which can be done by tightening restrictions at the border.

    The package of measures (re)introduced today are adequate to combat the Delta variant which is currently dominant, the PM says.

    In response to a question about why he is not implementing further plan B measures such as telling people to work from home, Boris Johnson cited the differences between the Delta and Omicron variant and its approach to “slow the seeding” through the border measures being introduced, accelerating the booster programme and giving scientists more time to understand the variant.

  • Explained: What is Plan B Covid in the UK?

    The government has set out plans to tackle Covid over autumn and winter.

    This contains the preferred Plan A, which will be followed if the number of infections remains manageable and the NHS is not overwhelmed, and Plan B, if the health service starts to struggle.

    Plan A focuses on continuing with the vaccine roll-out.

    This means offering it to healthy 12 to 15-year-olds, encouraging those who have not yet come forward to do so, and moving forward with the booster jab programme for those most at risk.

    It will also encourage Brits to take up free flu jabs, as well as frequent testing, self-isolation when necessary and the NHS Covid Pass to check vaccination or test status.

    Plan B on the other hand will mean the return of measures seen in the UK's various lockdowns.

    This could include making face coverings and vaccine passports mandatory in certain locations, returning to working from home, and generally urging the public to behave more cautiously.

    It has been claimed that some parts of England will see Plan B measures in the next few days as coronavirus infections continue to rise.

  • Boris Johnson's speech (Continued...)

    While the prime minister refused to say whether further restrictions could be imposed, he said he is "confident" that this Christmas will be "considerably better than the last.

    As well as the re-introduction of masks, he said that PCR tests would be required for all overseas arrivals. 

    10 new countries have been added to the travel red list as a result of the variant discovery.

    So from 4am on Sunday November 28, anyone arriving from these destinations will need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.

  • What did Boris Johnson say in his speech November, 27?

    Experts warned that the strain was the most evolved so far with 50 mutations, 32 of which are a particular concern and could be worse than Delta.

    In a speech on November 27, Boris Johnson urged all Brits to get their jabs and confirmed that the third vaccine campaign would get a "boost" by reducing the waiting time between the second jab and the booster.

    Boris Johnson described the measures as "temporary and precautionary" - and said they will be reviewed in three weeks' time.

  • 'We're not going to stop people travelling'

    Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Saturday: "We're not going to stop people travelling, I want to stress that, we're not going to stop people travelling, but we will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result.

    "Second, we need to slow down the spread of this variant here in the UK, because measures at the border can only ever minimise and delay the arrival of a new variant rather than stop it all together."

  • Omicron Covid variant contacts will have to isolate for 10 days

    THOSE who have been in contact with people infected with the Omicron Covid variant will have to isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status under the new rules.

    The Prime Minister announced the new restrictions last night amid growing fears over the dreaded super-strain.

    Boris also said: "We will require all contacts of those who test positive with a suspected case of Omicron to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of your vaccination status.

    "We will also go further in asking all of you to help contain the spread of this variant by tightening up the rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport."

  • State of emergency in New York

    A STATE of emergency has been declared in New York amid increasing concerns regarding the Omicron Covid variant.

    It comes as President Joe Biden banned travel from eight African countries in a bid to keep the super-strain out of the US.

    Ahead of the chaotic Christmas period, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order on Friday that she hopes will ease pressure on health surgeries ahead of a potential spike in Covid cases.

    It is feared infections will be spurred on by the Omicron variant - and despite there being no cases in the Big Apple yet, the world is on high alert.

    The New York governor has pledged to postpone elective surgeries in a bid to increase hospital capacity and tackle staffing shortages in the city.

  • BREAKING: Spain to ban unvaccinated Brits from WEDNESDAY

    SPAIN has banned all unvaccinated Brits from entering the country from December 1 in a bid to contain a new strain of coronavirus.

    British tourists will be admitted to Spain from next month only if they can show proof of vaccination, according to a Spanish government bulletin published on Saturday as the country tightened travel restrictions amid concern about the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

    It comes as Switzerland has said only Swiss nationals and permanent residents can enter in a massive blow to Brits' Christmas getaway plans.

    Read more here.

  • Those who refuse to wear masks will be hit with new sanctions

    Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Javid confirmed that people who refuse to wear masks will he hit with new sanctions.

    The BBC host asked: "This is a new rule which is in place now and people who don't obey that, people who go into shops without masks can be fined, will be fined?"

    As Mr Javid swerved the question, the BBC presenter pressed him: "Are you insisting as a government that everybody going into a shop wears a mask. And are you going to take sanctions on people who refuse to?"

    Mr Javid replied: "Yes, it will be a legal requirement by government regulations to wear masks in shops and public transport."

  • PM clear 'no lockdown like last year'

    Mr Johnson refused to give any guarantees but he is clear that there will be no lockdown like last year, and people were not being asked to work from home.

    In a further move, he announced plans to step up the pace of the jabs programme.

  • The new restrictions outlined

    The new restrictions, which can be introduced without a Commons vote, also include:

    These measures will be in place for three weeks to give scientists time to analyse the variant.