In an attempt to slow the spread of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has announced ‘temporary and precautionary’ measures after two cases of the new variant were detected.
The UK Health Security Agency confirmed the cases, which are both believed to be connected and linked to travel to southern Africa, after genomic sequencing overnight.
According to the new directive, in the UK, mask rules will be mandatory in shops and on public transport, while Omicron contacts will have to self-isolate and new arrivals will have to quarantine until they test negative for coronavirus.
The new measures are to be reviewed in three weeks.
Boris Johnson warned that the new variant could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, as he announced a strengthening of England’s rules during a Downing Street press conference, after the infections were identified in Nottingham and Brentwood in Essex.
Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola will face travel restrictions from today, Sunday, when they will join South Africa and five other neighbouring nations on England’s red list.
The Prime Minister added that “all contacts with a suspected case of the new variant will have to isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status”.
While the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron is currently unclear, Johnson said there are ‘good reasons for believing they will provide at least some measure of protection’.