Covid variant Omicron in UK: Three cases confirmed in England as face masks introduced from Tuesday

Travel restrictions, mask wearing and social distancing guidance have been brought into force in England, following the confirmed cases

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Three cases of the rapidly spreading and highly contagious new Covid variant, Omicron, have been confirmed in the UK.

Over the weekend (27-28 November), the UK government added 10 countries to its red list for international travel, as cases were detected in Essex, Nottingham and London.

The positive cases detected in people still in the UK have been ordered to self-isolate as have all of their household members, both are believed to be connected and there is a link to southern Africa.

The third case was confirmed on Sunday, the individual was linked to travel in South African and visited Westminster in London, before leaving the UK.

Travel restrictions increased

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said targeted testing is now being carried out across all areas where the infected people have visited.

Already on the list of countries which require isolation in a Covid hotel following arrival into the UK are South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out further measures during a Downing Street press conference on Saturday, in which he told the public that face mask wearing and social distancing would be compulsory in shops and on public transport from Tuesday.

Over 18’s should also expect their booster, third covid vaccine, sooner than first scheduled after the The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised the UK government that increasing the antibodies of everyone would be a “sensible strategy”.

The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, acknowledged the concerns of another Christmas lockdown on Sunday, but said families they should plan for Christmas “as normal”.

He added that it is “nowhere near” time to reintroduce social distancing rules and work-from-home guidance, despite a raft of precautionary measures being reintroduced to tackle the concerning strain.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), acknowledged it is “very likely” that further cases of Omicron will be confirmed.

The First Minister in Scotland also expressed concern, as she told Andrew Marr that people in Scotland are being advised to behave as though the variant is in Scotland, as concerns grow about the rapid spreading of the variant.

Nicola Sturgeon also told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that rules were being introduced “as quickly as possible”, but added: “I think we may need to go further in restricting travel in the days to come. I hope I’m wrong, but we must keep our minds open to that.”