Omicron variant spreads to Europe as UK announces countermeasures

R&I – TP ***

As an alarming new Covid variant spread to Europe on Friday, scientists warned that it would inevitably reach Britain, while ministers faced calls to urgently speed up the vaccination programme.
Thousands of travellers were left stranded or with their plans in disarray after flight bans were introduced targeting countries across southern Africa, where the variant was discovered. Hotel quarantine and enhanced testing will be brought in across the UK, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said.

B.1.1.529, or Omicron, was designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization on Friday night, due to its “concerning” mutations and because “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant”. It is feared to have an R (reproduction) value of 2 with the potential to evade vaccines. Javid said it “may pose substantial risk to public health”.

Belgium reported a case in a traveller who had been in Egypt and Turkey rather than southern Africa, suggesting community transmission, while cases were also detected in Israel and Hong Kong. Experts predict it is only a matter of time before it reaches Britain.


Article URL :