A NEW Covid super-strain has been officially named as a “variant of concern” with two cases already reported in the UK.
Today the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance shared three ways Brits can fight the Omicron variant and save Christmas.
There have been two reported cases of the new variant in the UKCredit: Getty
Limit cases into the country
Speaking at the Covid press conference, Mr Vallance said the first way to limit cases of the “horrific” variant was to stop infected travellers from entering the UK.
“The first is to try to limit the number of cases that enter the country from places that have got lots of cases,” he said.
“And that means trying to detect people and prevent them from spreading in the country.”
Earlier in the press conference, the PM announced that anyone arriving into Britain would be asked to take a PCR test for Covid-19 on the second day – regardless of vaccination status.
Travellers must self-isolate until they can provide a negative result.
The second way in which Britain can tackle the variant is by reducing the spread of infections already in the country.
Mr Vallance told the press conference that this could be done by making sure every case of the Omicron variant was reported and that those infected are self-isolating – so to reduce the spread.
“The second is to make sure that when we do have cases in the country, and we will have cases just as other countries will have, that we try and limit spread in the country and that means detecting those cases, making sure the contacts are identified,” the scientific expert said.
Read our Omicron live blog for the latest news and updates
Sajid Javid said the new variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and added: “The vaccines that we currently have may be less effective”.
Officials are also desperately trying to trace thousands who have arrived from South Africa in the past ten days.
So far there have been two reported cases of the Omicron variant in the UK.
The two cases – which are currently isolating – are said to be linked to travel in South Africa.
Defence through boosters
The third way in which Britain could fight the new strain is by all Brits getting vaccinated – including the booster shot.
“And the third is to bolster our defences,” Mr Vallance said.
“And the defences are first and foremost to make sure that the vaccines are boosted because very high levels of antibody coverage will create a higher proportion of people protected even against a variant.”
It comes over fears of this Christmas being cancelled over a high number of cases and the new variant.
A senior aviation source said there were “serious jitters” in all corners of the industry, telling The Times: “There is now a massive question mark over Christmas.
“It is clear the red list will expand and that will have a massive knock on.”
The latest clampdown is expected to require everyone in shops, trains and buses in England to wear a face-covering – unless they are medically exempt.
The exact rules are expected to be set out in “the next day or so”, with Boris adding Brits will go back “to a position where you have to wear them in retail settings or on public transport”.