Home » Covid Live News: WHO Says ‘very High’ Global Risk From Omicron; Poland Announces New Restrictions

Covid Live News: WHO Says ‘very High’ Global Risk From Omicron; Poland Announces New Restrictions

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16:17

UK records 42,583 new cases and further 35 deaths

The UK has reported another 42,583 Covid cases and a further 35 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, according to the latest data from the government’s coronavirus dashboard.

That is compared to 37,681 infections and 51 fatalities reported in the 24 hours prior.

16:14

The Omicron variant is highly transmissible and requires “urgent action,” G7 health ministers said on Monday, praising South Africa’s “exemplary work” for both detecting the strain and alerting others.

“The global community is faced with the threat of a new, at a first evaluation, highly transmissible variant of Covid-19, which requires urgent action,” the health ministers said in a statement following an emergency meeting, adding they would work together to monitor Omicron.

Underlining the “strategic relevance of ensuring access to vaccines”, they pledged to hold to their donation commitments, as well as to provide support to research and development.

At the same time, they will tackle “vaccine misinformation”, something that has in parts of the world led to resistance against inoculation.

A new meeting will be held in December, they said, committing to work closely together with the World Health Organization and international partners to share information on Omicron.

Scientists in South Africa said they had last week detected the new variant with at least 10 mutations, compared with three for Beta or two for Delta – the variant that hit the global recovery and sent millions worldwide back into lockdown earlier this year.

Omicron has sparked a frenzy of travel restrictions across the world, with a growing list of countries having already imposed travel curbs on southern Africa, including Qatar, the US, the UK, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Netherlands.

16:09

With new travel restrictions coming into effect in England from 4am on Tuesday to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant, my colleague Nazia Parveen explains what this means for travellers arriving in the country:

16:04

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has identified two further cases of Covid-19 with mutations consistent with Omicron in England, officials have announced.

The two cases are in addition to the previous three confirmed cases of the Sars-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 – aka the Omicron variant – on 27 and 28 November. The total number of confirmed cases in England is now five.

The individuals that have tested positive are not connected to each other and are not linked to the previously confirmed cases. Both have links to travel to southern Africa. One case is located in Camden, north London and one case is located in Wandsworth, south London.

Both individuals and their households had been told to self-isolate, the UKHSA said. It was carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.

15:54

Good afternoon from London. I’m Lucy Campbell, I’ll be bringing you all the latest global developments on the coronavirus pandemic for the next hour while Rachel takes a break. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lucy_campbell_

15:43

JCVI briefing on the booster programme ramp up

The JCVI briefing has now wrapped up.

Here’s a reminder of the key points:

  • All adults aged 18-39 are now eligible for a booster
  • People who are immunosuppressed are eligible for a fourth dose
  • A second dose will now be available for children aged 12-15
  • Boosters will be given three months after the second dose
  • The booster programme is expected to improve the efficacy of the jabs against omicron

Updated

15:40

Lim said all the JCVI advice given today applies to pregnant women.

He added that “there is a time to move quickly and a time to move more cautiously” on the vaccine programme, and the current moment calls for swifter-decision making.

15:33

Raine said a study of the side effects of the vaccine in those aged under 18 had shown there are “no new safety issues”.

She said: “Our message to people aged 12-15 is that it is safe to have a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and if you’re called to receive your second dose, please go and take that offer.

“It will ensure that you’re further protected from Covid-19.”

15:30

The UK’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, is about to speak in the House of Commons. You can follow the discussion on our UK blog:

Updated

15:28

Lim said that there is evidence that “the vaccines we have at the moment may be less good against omicron than the currently circulating delta variant”, since viruses that develop variants increase “the likelihood of a mismatch”.

One way of reducing this impact is to increase the strength of the immune response provided by the current vaccine. Since evidence suggests that the strongest response comes from the booster, it is expected to provide “extra protection” against omicron.

He added that the pre-booster interval must absolutely not be shorter than three months, which would be “too early”.