Sajid javid assured last night that no new restrictions on travel and masks will be extended for ‘a single day’ longer than they are necessary. Labour and SNP called for stronger curbs.

The Health Secretary supported the decision to reinstate Covid restrictions and said that they were appropriate to the threat posed by the Omicron strain.

From today it will be mandatory to wear a face mask in shops and on public transport, with fines of £200.

Anybody identified as the contact for someone who has tested positive for the virus will have to isolate themselves from their surroundings for at least ten days. This is even though they may be fully vaccinated. Travellers returning from overseas will have to be isolated at home for three days until they receive a positive PCR test.

The Health Secretary defended the decision to resurrect Covid restrictions, saying the 'responsible steps' were 'proportionate to the threat that we face' from the new Omicron strain

The Health Secretary supported the decision to reinstate Covid restrictions and said that they were appropriate to the new Omicron threat.

While the initial rules will be in effect for 3 weeks, Whitehall sources confirmed last night that they are likely to last into next year.

Corona strains have simply disappeared


While earlier Covids were alarming when they appeared, they failed to make a big impact in Britain.

First detected was the Beta variant in South Africa. The Gamma variant was found in Brazil.

Scientists have warned that the mutations in these strains may partially bypass existing immunity, making them more contagious. The UK has only seen around 1000 Beta cases and 300 Gamma.

Omicron is the most recent variant. Experts believe it could prove to be another ‘flash-in the pan’.

It was first detected in October 2020. In December it represented 52 percent of African cases. Globally, it was never responsible for more than 2% of all cases and reached an even lower level of 0.7% in Europe (including the UK).

In South America, Gamma was responsible for 78% of all cases at the peak. This was still a relatively small percentage, with only 8% of all cases globally and 0.2% in Europe (including the UK). Beta and Gamma each now account for 0.1% of global cases, while Delta accounts for over 98%.

Omicron was described by Dr Simon Clarke of Reading University as an associate professor in cell microbiology.

“It might cause us serious problems, but it is not certain that at this time.”


Yesterday, Labour and SNP called for Boris Johnson’s tougher restrictions. Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland and Mark Drakeford from Wales said that travelers should be made to isolate for at most eight days. This was regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or were originally from.

According to the leaders, the best and most secure way to stop the importation is through public health advice.

Miss Sturgeon stated that she hoped for the best but should be prepared for anything. Leaders are encouraging workers to use the internet. They also demanded Treasury assurances that their furlough programs would be financially supported if they were to shut down businesses.

In England, Labour demanded that all pubs and restaurants must have masks.

Downing Street did not support the idea of extending self-isolation to travel. Official spokesman for the PM stated: “We feel our approach is proportionate considering what evidence we have.” The travel industry and those planning to travel would be adversely affected if further testing and isolation were introduced.

No 10, however, rejected the notion of requiring office workers to return home. It was something that employers should decide. Minister Javid stated that they were cautious about taking action that might further harm the already-scarce hospitality industry.

He tried to assure MPs that the precautionary measures were taken to allow scientists enough time to analyze the Omicron threat.

According to him, the variant could have given the virus a leg up in the battle for the vaccines. However, he said that it was possible for this variant to be no more hazardous than the Delta one. In such a case we would not keep any measures in place longer than needed.

According to Mr Javid, hospitalizations are ‘what really matters’ when determining whether additional measures are necessary.

Alun Cairns, former Welsh Secretary, said that the government was correct to decline calls for harsher measures. He stated that many of these had been in place since summer in Wales, but infection rates remain much higher.

Today’s new rules were in effect at 4:05 AM and will be maintained until December 21.

The regulations will go to MPs tonight. However, ministers should be ready for any rebellion by Tory MPs against the return of restrictions.

Pictured: The new coronavirus rules coming into force today across England in a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron variant

Pictured: Today’s new coronavirus regulations in England are being implemented to stop the Omicron variant spreading.  

Nothing in this variation has impressed me enough to warrant Britain’s harsh response.

Commentary by Dr Angelique Koetzee 

Being the chairperson of South African Medical Association, and being a 33-year-old GP, I’ve seen many things in my 34 years of medical practice.

However, nothing prepared me for this extraordinary worldwide reaction to my news that I had just seen a young male in my clinic with a Covid case that was the Omicron variety.

The same virus has circulated in Southern Africa since it was first identified in Botswana.

However, because of my public-facing position, when I announced its existence in my patient, it was unwittingly made known to the world.

Quite simply, I have been stunned at the response – and especially from Britain.

To be honest, I don’t know anything about the new variant that justifies the extreme response the UK government took.

There is no evidence that anyone from South Africa was hospitalized with Omicron or is believed to have become seriously ill.

However, Britain and the other European countries have taken strong measures to restrict travel from southern Africa. They also imposed stricter restrictions at home regarding mask-wearing and fines.

We don’t have enough information about Omicron yet to be able to judge or impose policies.

South Africa is able to maintain a sense of perspective. Because we are still waiting to find out what this variant means, there have been no regulations and talk about lockdowns.

Nothing has prepared me for the extraordinary global reaction that met my announcement this week that I had seen a young man in my surgery who had a case of Covid that turned out to be the Omicron variant, writes Dr Angelique Coetzee

There was nothing that could have prepared me for this extraordinary worldwide reaction to my news that I had treated a young male in my clinic with a severe case of Covid. It turned out that it was the Omicron variant. 

New Covid variations are something we’re used to. Nobody was surprised when scientists discovered yet another variant of Covid. It was not something that many people noticed.

After Britain learned about the issue, global trends began to shift.

While our scientists were trying to identify the large gaps in knowledge, European nations unilaterally ban travel from this region of the world.

The government felt understandably upset by the situation and pointed out that excellence in science should be celebrated, not punished.

Omicron, if it turns out that Omicron is a virus rapidly spreading with mild symptoms in the majority of those who are affected, would represent a significant step towards herd immunity.

In the next 2 weeks, we will find out if this is true.

Even as our scientists tried to point out the huge gaps in the world's knowledge about this variant, European nations immediately and unilaterally banned travel from this part of the world (stock image)

Even though our scientists attempted to highlight the vast gaps in world knowledge regarding this variant, European countries unilaterally prohibited travel from that part of the globe (stock photo).

The worst situation – of course – would be a fast-spreading virus with severe infections. We are not in that situation at the moment.

My GP colleagues and I are not seeing the UK’s knee-jerk reactions.

For one thing, we’re not – at least for now – treating patients who are severely ill.

Let’s take my Omicron first case. The young man that I spoke of earlier. His first Omicron case was the young man I mentioned earlier. He was positive for Covid, as were his wife and their four-month-old child.

So far, the patients who’ve tested positive for Omicron here have been mainly young men – a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated (though, in our statistics, ‘unvaccinated’ can also mean ‘single-vaccinated’).

Yesterday, five additional patients tested positive for this variant. All of them had mild illnesses.

At the moment I fear that Britain is just exaggerating the danger of this variant.

It is possible that the future picture will look very different. For example, I have not yet seen older people unvaccinated with this new variant. They might be more severely affected.

The reality is, Covid is something that we must learn to accept. Take care of yourself, and make sure you get the vaccines. Above all, don’t panic – and that goes for governments as well.

South African Medical Association Chair Dr. Coetzee

Here are eight reasons to still enjoy a wonderful Christmas 


All of it felt familiar and depressingly familiar. With Christmas just around the corner, a new mutant has appeared. Alarmist voices have called for Covid restrictions to be restored. Although Omicron’s concerns are understandable, scientists believe we have the ability to combat this threat. Many experts predict that vaccines can still be used to prevent severe diseases and warn there’s no evidence of an increase in hospitalizations from the new strain. Omicron could not overcome the “T-cell immunity” many of us have, which they also pointed out. We can now look forward to Christmas with joy this year.

Obtained immunity

The 32 unique mutations in the spike protein, which is the portion of the virus that antibodies target, have been shown to make the Omicron variant more resistant to existing vaccines. In the past 48 hours, many scientists offered some reassurance. Jonathan Van-Tam (England’s deputy chief Medical Officer) urged against panic and expressed hope that vaccines could still stop serious illnesses. South Africa’s Chief Covid Advisor during the initial response, Professor Salim Abdool Karaim stated that existing vaccines were still able to prevent severe illness and hospitalization. On top of antibodies, there are other crucial components to the immune system – such as T-cells – which are less easily fooled by mutations.

Success booster

The astonishing success rate of booster jabs is beyond all science expectations. They increase immunity levels to higher levels than the first dose. Increased antibodies from boosters will’mitigate” any decrease in Omicron-protection. Professor Wei Shen Lim (chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) stated that a higher immune response would reach further and offer additional protection.

Grave illness

Omicron may be more dangerous than other viruses, according to early signs. However there’s no evidence that Omicron causes more death or severe illness. Some South African doctors claim that symptoms are mild so far. And yesterday Professor Van-Tam reassured the public: ‘If vaccine effectiveness is reduced, the biggest effect is likely to be in preventing infections – there will be smaller effects on preventing severe disease.’ Although there are more cases in south Africa than ever before, the number of hospitalisations and deaths has not increased. Omicron is still being treated by key medications, such as dexamethasone, and other antivirals.

Tweaked vaccines

Omicron could circumvent existing vaccines in a highly unlikely case. Scientists will be ready to respond. Pfizer claims it will only take 100 days to develop a modified version of the jab that can be targeted at this new variant. Moderna and AstraZeneca are both rapidly developing Omicron-specific jabs.

Uncertainty ahead

The panic caused by this new variant could lead you to believe it’s more dangerous, fatal, or better at getting around vaccines. However, the evidence is still not strong enough to prove any of these ideas. Yesterday, Professor Van-Tam gave a Downing Street briefing and stated that “We don’t yet know what will happen next.” In the coming weeks, there will be scientific uncertainty. There have been many other variations that looked scary but proved to be nothing.

Rapid response

Alpha and delta are two of the previous dominant mutant variants. They had been spreading around the world before scientists even realized that they existed in both instances. It took only three days for South African scientists to identify Omicron and Britain to ban flights. Scientists have had this time to investigate and slow down the spread of the variant, as well as to give booster shots to people.

Britain’s stable epidemic

Covid chaos is raging across Europe, but the UK has seen a steady increase in cases and fewer deaths. Hospital admissions are down and there are 7,530 patients in NHS hospitals with Covid – down from 9,666 on November 1 and almost 40,000 at the January peak. If there is an Omicron Wave, the UK should be in a strong position to manage it.

Lockdown is unlikely

The ministers stressed that a Christmas lockdown will only be used if there is a sudden turn in events which would lead to Britain facing catastrophe. Sajid Javid Health Secretary has told families that they should plan as normal for a great Christmas. Yesterday, he suggested that hospitalizations were the main metric to decide on restrictions. However, the number of people admitted to hospitals in the UK is falling. Chris Whitty, chief medical officer suggested that it might not be possible for people to accept another lockdown.