Sunday 28 November 2021 12:35 PM UTC
LONDON Nov 28: Face masks will be compulsory in shops and on public transport in England from Tuesday in response to the new Omicron variant, the health secretary has said.
While he said the reintroduction of PCR tests for travellers was waiting on approval from the four nations, the government website said it would be a requirement from 04:00 GMT on Tuesday.
Writing in BBC, James Gallagher, health and science correspondent said: “The government’s response is to test everyone coming in to the UK, isolate all Omicron contacts, ramp up boosting and bring back compulsory face masks in some public places.
“Let’s be clear – that will not stop more Omicron cases arriving or circulating. It’s already arrived. If a virus is good at spreading then eventually it will slip through.
“And it has the potential to spread here too. Cases of Covid have been climbing except for a lull over the October half term.
“They are averaging at more than 40,000 a day and the R number is just above the crucial threshold of one. If Omicron can combine faster transmission with some ability to evade immunity then it too could spread.
“All the measures can do is buy time, but for what? Science and boosters”. Read more from James on BBC
Health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday he expected to receive advice imminently on whether the government can broaden a booster jab programme to try to tackle the emergence of the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant.
Ministers also want to ramp up the offer of booster jabs, saying even if vaccines prove to be less effective against Omicron, they should offer better protection against it and reduce the number of hospitalisations and deaths.
“The other thing that still remains hugely important, but I think it’s fair to say now more important than it was before, is our vaccination programme,” Javid told Sky News.
“That is why I have also asked our expert advisers on vaccines called JCVI (the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) to give me very quick advice on broadening, boosting our booster programme and I expect to get that advice imminently.”
“The point is the vaccines are still going to give you more protection than otherwise, that is why the booster programme is so important.”
Who can get a COVID-19 booster vaccine
Booster vaccine doses will be available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a 2nd dose of a vaccine at least 6 months ago.
people aged 40 and over
people who live and work in care homes
frontline health and social care workers
people aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
people aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
people aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
People who are pregnant and in 1 of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.
Health conditions that put you at high risk from COVID-19
How and when to get your COVID-19 booster vaccine
If you’re eligible, you’ll be offered a booster dose at least 6 months after you had your 2nd dose.
Most people can:
book a vaccination appointment online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
go to a walk-in vaccination site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
wait to be contacted by a local NHS service such as a GP surgery and book an appointment with them
People who work for an NHS trust or a care home will usually get their booster dose through their employer.
Book your vaccination appointment online
You can book your COVID-19 booster dose online if it’s been 5 months (152 days) since you had your 2nd dose and you are:
aged 40 and over
aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19
a frontline health or social care worker
You’ll be offered appointment dates from 6 months after the date of your 2nd dose.
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