According to Prime Minister, all new arrivals must be isolated until they are given a negative Covid Test. The rules regarding facemasks and masks will also be changed to counter the “monstrous” Omicron variant. 

At a gloomy Downing Street press conference this evening, Boris Johnson also announced that all contacts of people infected with the mutation must also stay at home for 10 days after two cases of the strain were detected in Nottingham and Brentwood in Essex. 

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance were present. Johnson claimed that Omicron’s strain differs significantly from other viruses and warned that this will reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.

Four more countries – Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola – will be added to the no-fly list on Sunday. Because of growing panic over the ‘variant-of-concern’ that scientists consider more transmissible, and more likely to reinfect, all South African, Botswana (Lesotho), Eswatini Zimbabwe, Namibia and Namibia flights were canceled yesterday. 

Sajid Javid (Health Secretary) stated earlier today that there were two instances of this strain in the UK. Both cases are believed to have been acquired from travel to South Africa. Following confirmation of the sequence by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the affected individuals were advised to seek self-isolation for themselves and any members of the household.

Today, Health Secretary, speaking to journalists, hinted that further restrictions might be reinstated. She stated that the government has “always been very explicit that we will not hesitate to take additional action if it is necessary”.

Today, the UK recorded another 39,567 Covid deaths and an additional 39.567 Covid cases. Department of Health officials posted nearly 40,000 daily infections – down 3.36 per cent from 40,941 last Saturday – while the number of people who have died 28 days after testing positive for Covid has also fallen by 12.7 per cent from 150 last week.

Canada, USA and EU followed Britain’s lead to put travel restrictions in place for visitors to southern Africa. The move was made before the WHO increased the concern level by adding B.1.1.529 to its top category.

On Friday, Mr Javid informed the Commons that the variant could be more transmissible and make current vaccines less efficient. He also suggested it might hinder Ronapreve, one of UK’s Covid treatments.

Britain’s Omicron 2 infection was confirmed after a number of Omicron-infected people were reported in Europe. At least 61 Covid cases have been detected from South Africa. The new Omicron variant is currently being sequenced by authorities.

Europe’s first case of the variant was spotted in Belgium yesterday – despite the unvaccinated woman who caught it having travelled to Turkey and Egypt. Today, suspected cases were confirmed by the Czech Republic and Germany. Initial sequencing in Germany suggests that a South African traveller was the one who had contracted Omicron’s virus. Officials will be waiting for the full sequencing to take place later today. And Australian authorities – who also banned travel to nine countries in the region – fear the variant may have already entered the country.

Another day of chaos caused by coronavirus 

  • A young, unvaccinated woman was the first European victim in Belgium.
  • In the UK, Covid was less popular than ever.
  • Officially, you have no greater chance of getting Covid from visiting the theatre or watching football matches than your friends.
  • South African experts said there was “every indication” that the vaccines against the variant were still working.
  • There was speculation that vaccine experts would approve booster jabs soon after the strain’s discovery.
Cases of Omicron have already been picked up in the UK, South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium. It is not yet known whether the variant arrived in the Netherlands yesterday but Dutch authorities are sequencing passengers' tests. There are also suspected individual cases being sequenced in Germany, the Czech Republic and Australia

Omicron cases were already found in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong. The variant may have arrived in the Netherlands on yesterday, but it’s not known. However, Dutch authorities are currently sequencing the passengers’ DNA. Individual cases are being sequenced in Australia, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Britain has sequenced two cases of the Omicron variant in Nottingham and Chelmsford, Sajid Javid said today

Sajid Javid, today of Britain’s Omicron variant sequencing program, announced that two British cases have been sequenced in Nottingham and Chelmsford.

NOTTINGHAM: One case of Omicron has been found in Nottingham, where infections have been creeping up steadily in recent weeks in line with the national picture

NOTTINGHAM – One Omicron case has been identified in Nottingham. These infections are increasing in frequency in the last few weeks and have been in sync with the national picture.

BRENTWOOD: The other case was found in Brentwood, Essex, which has seen a broadly similar trend, recording 67 new cases on Wednesday

BRENTWOOD – The second case was located in Brentwood, Essex. This area has been experiencing a very similar trend and recorded 67 additional cases Wednesday.

South Africa recorded 2,828 new Covid cases yesterday, more than double the 1,374 recorded last Thursday, but infection levels have yet to skyrocket and no hospitalisations with the new variant have occurred so far. Graph shows: The seven-day average  for cases in the country

Yesterday saw 2,828 Covid new cases in South Africa, an increase of more than the 1,374 reported last Thursday. However, infection rates have not risen dramatically and there have been no hospitalisations due to the new variant. Graph shows: The seven-day average  for cases in the country

All flights from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia were banned by Mr Javid yesterday

Mr Javid bans all South Africa flights, Botswana Lesotho Eswatini Zimbabwe, Namibia and Namibian airlines yesterday

After South African passengers arrive in the Netherlands, at least 61 Covid cases are discovered. 

At least 61 new cases of Covid have entered the Netherlands from South Africa as fears mount over the spread of the new super mutant variant.

Around 600 passengers arrived on two planes in Schipol Airport, near Amsterdam, from Johannesburg — the epicentre for the new strain — hours after travel bans were put in place. 

In the Netherlands, the passenger were placed in quarantine to await the results of an investigation by authorities. Some people complained that they were left without food or water for several hours onboard the aircraft. 

The Netherlands requires that all persons returning from the EU must show proof of either negative PCR testing 48 hours prior to their return or negative lateral flow tests 24 hours prior to their return. 

You must include the name and contact information (name, address and telephone number) of the institution, doctor or lab that carried out the test.

Due to record breaking Covid levels, authorities in the country announced that some restaurants and bars will soon be closed. 

“We now know that 61 results were positive, and 531 negative,” the Dutch Health Authority (GGD), stated in a statement.  

“Travellers with positive results will be kept in isolation at Schiphol hotels.

“Of the positive tests results, we are quickly researching whether they are the latest variant of concern. Now called Omicron.

On Friday, the Dutch government banned air travel to southern Africa. Hugo de Jonge (Health Minister) stated that any passengers already in transit to the Netherlands must be tested and quarantined upon their arrival.

Two passengers on KLM’s flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg claimed that they were left waiting for hours on the runway. 

Today, Javid made an announcement: “Today I am able to announce that we will be doing one thing immediately. We are going to carry out targeted testing in these two affected areas and sequence the positive cases.

It is known that there are new versions of the virus. We don’t know enough about it yet but from what we do know, the protections that we have – especially the vaccines – are hugely important.

“We will protect all the achievements we’ve made together as a nation. 

“We have come a long distance since summer. All of this is under review. And if necessary, we will take additional action. 

Javid stated that anyone having traveled within the past 10 day to one of the 10 redlisted countries must be self-isolated and undergo PCR testing.

The chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty has stated: “We will continue working closely with the international comunity to quickly collect and analyse information regarding this variant in order to understand any increase in transmission or resistance to vaccinations.” 

This comes just as Johnson is preparing to implement new travel bans in a number of countries.

Experts warn that Britain might be subject to restrictions again this Christmas. However, Prime Minister David Cameron hopes travel bans can prevent such a lockdown. 

Prof Whitty previously said he fears Britons will not accept another national lockdown to fight off the variant over the winter because of ‘behavioural fatigue’ caused by two years of restrictions. 

Yesterday saw 2,828 Covid new cases in South Africa, an increase of more than twice the 1 374 reported last Thursday. However, infection rates have not risen dramatically and there have been no hospitalisations for the new variant.

Today, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard of Oxford, who was one of the scientists that developed the AstraZeneca vaccine expressed cautious optimism about the possibility that vaccines already in place could prevent serious diseases from this variant. 

Joe Biden said that the US will join the increasing number of countries closing their borders. He also stated that the pandemic would not stop until there are global vaccines. Kathy Hochul of New York was forced to declare a state emergency yesterday because Covid infection reached levels that were unprecedented since April 2020. 

Today, German officials confirmed that the suspected first case of Omicron was from someone who returned from South Africa.

Kai Klose (social affairs minister in western Hesse), tweeted that the Omicron variant had with strong probability already arrived in Germany. This was in reference to the strain discovered in south Africa.

Klose reported that Friday’s tests on the South African-born traveller returned from South Africa had revealed Omicron mutations.

The person was isolated from their home because of strong suspicion. This is the final sequence.

Klose’s ministry reported that the person arrived in Germany at Frankfurt international Airport (the country’s busiest), according to Klose. 

Meanwhile, Sir Andrew today moved to calm fears in Britain, claiming most of the strain’s mutations are in similar regions seen in other variants so far. 

Passengers from KLM flight KL598 from Cape Town, South Africa wait to be screened at Amsterdam Airport, the Netherlands, yesterday

KLM KL598 passengers departing Cape Town (South Africa) wait to be checked at Amsterdam Airport.

Red Cross health workers transport passengers infected with coronavirus returning from South Africa for a quarantine in a hotel in Schiphol, the Netherlands, today

Red Cross workers take coronavirus-infected passengers from South Africa to a hospital in Schiphol (the Netherlands) today.

A woman from the KLM flight KL598 from Cape Town, South Africa, queues for her Covid test at Amsterdam Airport last night

A woman from the KLM flight KL598 from Cape Town, South Africa, queues for her Covid test at Amsterdam Airport last night

Pictured: Passengers wait on their Covid test results at Schiphol Airport, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands last night

Pictured: Passengers wait on their Covid test results at Schiphol Airport, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands last night

Passengers sit in their seats aboard KLM Flight 598 on the tarmac at Schipol airport in Amsterdam after it landed from Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday

KLM Flight598 passengers sit on their seats at Schipol airport Schipol in Amsterdam, after landing in Cape Town, South Africa.

Passengers from KLM flight KL598 from Cape Town, South Africa, wait to be screened at Amsterdam Airport yesterday

KLM Flight KL598 passengers arrive at Amsterdam Airport to check in yesterday

This chart shows the proportion of cases that were the B.1.1.529 variant (blue) and Indian 'Delta' variant (red) over time in Guateng province in South Africa, where the virus is most prevalent. It suggests that the mutant strain could outcompete Delta in the province within weeks

The chart below shows how many cases were either the B.1.1.529 or Indian ‘Delta) variants over time in Guateng province, South Africa. This is the area where the virus is the most common. The mutant strain may be able to outcompete Delta within weeks.

We know a lot about Omicron. 

Scientists expressed concern about Omicron’s B.1.1.529 version, called Omicron by Omicron by World Health Organisation. It has 30 variants, twice the number of those found in the Delta. These mutations include traits not only that are common in the various variants, but they also contain some features previously unknown. 

After samples of coronavirus variants were uploaded to an online tracking site for South Africa, Hong Kong, Botswana and Botswana, UK scientists became aware that the strain was new on November 23, 2012. 

Friday’s confirmation that the cases were identified in Israel and Belgium was confirmed, but there is no evidence of cases currently in the UK.

Good Morning Britain was told Friday by Professor Adam Finn (a member of Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) that sequencing is currently being done in the UK in order to find out if any cases were imported. 

It is still being investigated whether this new variant could cause new infections among people who have received a coronavirus vaccination or another vaccine.  

Director of the Rosalind Foundation Institute, Professor James Naismith has indicated that although the vaccines will still be effective and provide protection, the new variant will almost certainly reduce their effectiveness.

Pfizer/BioNTech have already produced a vaccine for Covid-19. They are currently studying how the new version can be evaded vaccines. 

He said that vaccines continue to protect serious illness despite mutations in other varieties.

“At the very least, we can be optimistic that this vaccine will still protect against serious diseases. But we must wait for confirmation.

“It is highly unlikely that a pandemic outbreak in the vaccinated population will occur again like what happened last year.” 

Professor Pollard stated that a vaccine against Omicron can be developed’very quickly’, if necessary.

“The development of a new vaccine takes place in a well-oiled process, which means that if necessary it can be accomplished very quickly. 

Yesterday, South African experts tried to ease panic by describing the situation as “a storm in a teacup” yesterday. 

Sir John Edmunds from the British vaccine taskforce said the ban on travel will not prevent the virus from reaching Britain, but that it could slow down a possible surge of cases outside the Christmas period in order to preserve the NHS.

However, experts insist that there’s no plausible scenario in which Omicron would take the UK back into’square one’ and have called for calm heads despite the suspension of flights from south Africa. 

Javid stated to MPs that while the world was concerned, vaccinations have put Britain in a good position.

Scientists suggested that the existing jabs might be altered to deal with this variant. Representatives from the World Health Organisation said it was too early to resort to “Plan B”, such as work at home and vaccination passports.

But news of the variant saw the FTSE 100 – the UK’s leading share index – suffer its sharpest drop since January, closing down at 3.7 per cent, spelling alarm for travel companies banking on winter bookings.

An aviation senior informed the Times that there were “seriousjitters” in the industry. She added, “There is now an enormous question mark over Christmas. There is no doubt that the red list will grow, and this will result in a major knock on. 

Sources within government claim ministers want to limit travel in order to prevent restrictions at home. This could even mean a significant blow to the industry.

Originally known as the Botswana variant, this strain has been officially identified by WHO as an ‘Omicron’.

The discovery of it earlier this week is so important because there are around 30 mutations in the genome, some that could increase transmission risk. Experts described it as being the “worst” variant.

After the confirmation of the first South African case in Europe, the EU suspended all travel to the region. Britain had already put six nations on the travel ‘red list’ – and was poised to add two more last night.

According to a government advisor, the public must be prepared for the possibility that Covid restrictions will return. Mail received this statement from a government official: “People shouldn’t panic.” 

SAGE expert Omicron says Omicron is “NOT a catastrophe” and accuses scientists of being ‘hugely exaggerating the situation’ since vaccines are designed to protect against serious disease. 

Sage advisors say that although the Covid new variant is not a disaster, some individuals may overstate it.

As countries like Britain and the US closed borders to six south African nations, including the one causing the alleged Omicron mutation, last night’s World Health Organisation labeled it a ‘variant to concern.

This week’s unexpected appearance of the variant caused panic within Whitehall, as scientists at Downing Street warned that it might be resistant to vaccines and Sajid Javid, Health Secretary threatened to reinstate lockdown if needed.

After the confirmation of the first South African case in Europe, the EU suspended all travel to the region. Britain had already put six nations on the travel ‘red list’ – and was poised to add two more last night.

However, microbiologist Calum Semple urged us to remain calm today and insisted that vaccines were’still likely’ to protect you against serious disease.

According to Sage, he supports new restrictions for travel in South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho. He also stated that Eswatini, Botswana and Botswana have been removed. However, he said: “This isn’t a disaster. I believe the headlines by some of my colleagues claiming that this is horrible are greatly exaggerating the reality.

You are still protected from serious disease if you have a vaccine. 

“You may get a sore throat, a headache, or a severe cold. But your chances of getting into intensive care or dying or going to hospital are much reduced by vaccinations.

Professor Semple explained that although it might not be possible for the variant to arrive in the UK, it’s important to postpone its arrival.

“If we can stop the virus from entering your country, it allows us to have more time for our booster campaigns to be ahead of it,” he said. “It gives scientists more time to study the virus, in case it is something we should worry about.

When Prof Semple was asked what additional measures he considered to be advisable, he said that he supported compulsory facemasks on public transport and in shops, as well as handwashing.

Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group Professor Sir Andrew Pollard stated that it was unlikely that a resurgence of a pandemic among vaccinated people like what happened last year would happen. On Radio 4’s Today, Pollard also stated that vaccines might be effective in protecting against serious diseases like the Omicron variety. 

He said that the message tells us that vaccines continue to protect against serious illness, despite the existence of mutations in other varieties.

“At the very least, from a speculation point of view we believe that vaccines should continue to work against new strains for severe diseases. However, it is best to hold off until we get confirmation. A resurgence of the pandemic that we witnessed last year in an unvaccinated population is unlikely.

Yesterday, Mr Javid informed MPs in Parliament that the government “will not hesitate to act” if there are further restrictions.

The Health Secretary stated that one of the main lessons from this pandemic was to move fast and as soon as possible. “We are now entering winter. Our booster programme remains active, so it is important to be careful.

When asked if the government could execute its Plan B winter plan, Javid replied that the existing rules “remain the policies I believe we need at the moment”.