Sturgeon increases orders for Scots who want to work remotely: The leader of SNP tells companies that staff kept away from the office during the initial lockdown need not return until mid-January.

Today, Nicola Sturgeon increased work-from-home orders for Scots – demanding that businesses ensure people don’t go to offices.

As the MSPs were updated on Omicron threats, the First Minister gave a strong message. 

Ms. Sturgeon said that there will not be any changes to the restrictions that apply north of the border, despite fears about the potential spread of the mutant strain.

SNP leader made it clear that the directive to work at home was included.

Ms. Sturgeon made a direct appeal to employers by stating that “if your staff were working at home during the outbreak of the pandemic,” she would now allow them to continue to work from home.  

delivered the tough message as she gave updated MSPs on the threat from Omicron

As she delivered her tough message, she also updated MSPs regarding the Omicron threat

In total, there are 46,000 Covid cases on average each day in the UK and data from the Covid Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) suggests the new strain is already behind around one in 66 of them, or 1.4 per cent

On average, 46,000 Covid patients are diagnosed each day in the UK. Covid Genomics UK Consortium data (COG UK) shows that around 1 in 666 cases, or 1.4%, is affected by the new strain.

Ms Sturgeon also advised Scots that they follow guidelines regarding self-isolation and testing for symptoms.

She stated, “I am not exempting myself from this”,

“I currently do a test each morning before I go to work, and I’ll test any time I meet with people over Christmas.” “I will request anyone who is visiting me over Christmas to do so.

Ms Sturgeon encouraged MSPs “to lead by example” in testing.

The intervention came after  Dominic Raab today insisted the government’s coronavirus ‘Plan B’ for England is still unnecessary despite increasingly grim warnings about the Omicron strain.

In a series of interviews, the deputy PM expressed optimism about Christmas and said that the successes of the vaccine program meant tougher restrictions were not necessary.

The defiant stance came after Theresa May was cheered to the rafters by Tory MPs last night as she accused ministers of putting businesses at risk by ‘stopping and starting sectors of our economy’.

Ex-premier claimed that the new mutation seemed to cause less severe illness, and that the country should ‘learn how to live with Covid”. 

However, fresh doubts about the fate of the festive season were raised this morning as experts warned Omicron is spreading faster in the UK than expected.

Eminent epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector claimed infections with the variant were doubling every two days and that there were up to 2,000 cases already — five times more than the official count. 

King’s College London’s chief symptom-tracking scientist estimated that Britain would have Omicron cases in less than ten days, compared to other African countries.

Dr Jeffrey Barrett, head of Covid surveillance at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said Omicron was likely to become the UK dominant strain ‘within a matter of weeks’ rather than months like initially hoped.

However, Raab today rescinded the notion of adding additional curbs such as vaccine passports or orders for workers to stay at home. He stated that Plan B was not necessary for him to speak on BBC Radio 4’s Today program. ‘Why? The success of our vaccine program.

Dominic Raab struck an optimistic note about Christmas in a round of interviews earlier, saying Plan B restrictions are 'not required' in England due to the success of the vaccine programme

Dominic Raab, who was interviewed earlier in the year, struck a positive note about Christmas. He stated that Plan B restrictions were ‘not necessary’ due to England’s success with the vaccine program.

Mr Raab was more definitive than Boris Johnson who yesterday refused to rule out tightening restrictions over the festive period, merely insisting that Christmas will be ‘better’ than last year.

Scientists anticipate booster jabs providing high protection against Omicron disease and death. 

No10 revealed last week it will increase the number of booster jabs to 500,000 per day, and provide a third dose for all 53 million British adults in January. It does this to guard against the coming wave. 

But the ‘turbocharged’ campaign already appears to be stalling with just 290,000 delivered across Britain. Each day, an average of 378,000 doses are given.