As at 29th November, a total of 97,330,867 doses of a coronavirus vaccine had been administered in the UK, with 50,963,718 people receiving a first dose (88.6% of the population aged 12 and over) and 46,367,149 people receiving both doses (80.6%). A total of 18,215,535 people had received a booster jab (31.7%).
New COVID-19 Omicrom Variant
Temporary and precautionary measures (to be reviewed after three weeks) to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant in the UK have come into force in England in recent days as follows: –
- Face coverings are now compulsory in shops, supermarkets and a number of other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport, unless individuals are exempt from wearing them. This does not apply to hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants, bars etc. Further details of the rules on face coverings and the settings in which they must now be worn can be seen here.
- All close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant are required to isolate for 10 days regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
- Pupils in Year 7 and above in England are strongly advised to wear face coverings in communal areas. The guidance also applies to staff and visitors at all schools and childcare settings
- The Booster Jab programme is to be extended and accelerated– everyone aged 18 and over will now be offered a booster jab with the gap between the second and third jabs being reduced from six months to three. All those eligible for a booster will be offered a jab by the end of January and will be prioritised according to age with the NHS working down the list in five-year bands. The Prime Minister said that England will have more than 1,500 community pharmacy sites and around 400 military personnel to help with the rollout. The severely immunosuppressed will now be offered a fourth jab. Children aged 12 to 15 will now be offered a second dose three months after the first.
- All travellers arriving in England are now required to take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self -isolate until they have received a negative test result. These PCR tests can be purchased from private providers. Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose. For more details please see here. Not surprisingly, other countries have reacted in similar fashion to the new Omicrom variant and a number have imposed tougher border restrictions for visitors, including some of the most popular holiday destinations at this time of year such as Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Morocco. If you are planning a trip abroad, the latest advice about foreign travel including information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings for various countries can be found here.
- The following countries have now been placed on the Red List for international travel purposes for which special rules apply – Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Full details can be found here.
Private Test Providers
If you need to arrange a private Covid-19 test, the government’s latest list of test providers can be found here.