- By Francesca Gillett
- BBC News
The UK faces an “omicron emergency”.
This was stated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this Sunday in a televised statement hours after health authorities raised the alert level from three to four for the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
“I am afraid that we are now facing an emergency in our fight against the new omicron variant,” Johnson said in a message broadcast on BBC One, in which he also urged the population to receive booster vaccines.
“Now it is clear that two doses of the vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection that we all need. But the good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose, a booster dose, we can all go back up. our level of protection, “he explained.
The last time the UK was at level four was last May.
Previously, the health authorities of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland recommended raising the alert level because the virus is spreading rapidly.
Risks of contagion are measured using a system of five color-coded levels: the fourth, painted orange, is a high or increasing level of transmission.
This system is independent of any government decision on the toughening of the rules.
The concern of the health authorities is based on the fact that the first data show that omicron is spreading much faster than Delta and that the protection of the vaccine against the symptomatic disease of this new variant is reduced.
“Data on severity will become clear in the coming weeks, but omicron hospitalizations are already occurring and are likely to increase rapidly. The National Health Service is currently under pressure for non-covid cases,” authorities said. .
“But, with a variant spreading with higher transmissibility and lower vaccine efficacy, that pressure is likely to grow soon.”
Those responsible for public health urged the population to get vaccinated and to receive a booster dose for those who already are. They noted that people should keep rooms ventilated, wear masks, get regular tests, and self-isolate when symptoms occur.
The recommendation is based on the fact that the first data shows that the administration of a third booster dose prevents around 75% of people from presenting any symptoms of covid by omicron.
Those over 30 in England and Scotland will be able to schedule their booster doses starting Monday, and in Scotland the 18-29 year range by the middle of this week.
Wales, like England and Scotland, aims to give booster shots to all adults by the end of January at the latest, while Northern Ireland is already doing it for 30+ and walk-ins.
In the UK, more than 500,000 booster shots were administered on Saturday, the second day since the rollout of the third-dose application began.
The self-isolation rules in England have also been updated again.
Starting Tuesday, fully vaccinated people who come into contact with someone infected with COVID will not have to automatically self-isolate, but will undergo daily tests for seven days.
This is the latest change in the regulations after the government introduced new Plan B measures, including covid passports for some mass events and the return to remote work from home.
For their part, Wales and Scotland have said the new rules could arrive in the coming weeks.
Earlier, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said that there are people hospitalized with omicron and that the variant accounts for a third of cases in London.
When asked if he could guarantee that all schools would be open in January, Zahawi said he would do “everything possible” but did not say so.
Scientists have stated that, without further restrictions, the United Kingdom faces a major wave of omicron in January and that by April the number of deaths from the variant could range between 25,000 and 75,000, depending on the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Now you can receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download the new version of our app and activate them so you don’t miss out on our best content.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.