Covid: UK alert level raised to four due to Omicron

Health / Sun 12th Dec 2021 at 05:32pm

THE UK’s coronavirus alert level has been raised to level four due to the spread of Omicron, the UK’s chief medical officers have said reports the BBC.

The last time the UK was at level four was in May.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to make a televised statement on Covid at 20:00 GMT on Sunday.

He is expected to provide an update on the booster programme. The BBC understands there will not be any new restrictions imposed.

On Sunday evening, the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said they were recommending the coronavirus alert level is raised from level three to level four, which signifies Covid is spreading fast.

Risk levels are measured by a five-level, colour-coded alert system. Level four means a high or rising level of transmission.

The Covid alert level system is separate and independent from any government decisions on easing or tightening restrictions.

In their statement, the chief medical officers said early evidence shows the Omicron variant is spreading much faster than Delta – and that vaccine protection against symptomatic disease from Omicron is reduced. 

“Data on severity will become clearer over the coming weeks but hospitalisations from Omicron are already occurring and these are likely to increase rapidly.

“The NHS is currently under pressure mainly driven by non-Covid pressures. With a variant spreading with increased transmissibility and reduced vaccine effectiveness, we are likely to see this pressure rise soon.”

The UK was last at level four from late February to May this year, and has been at level three since then.

It is not yet known exactly how well vaccines work against Omicron.

But early data shows that getting a third booster dose prevents around 75% of people getting any Covid symptoms from the variant.

The chief medical officers urged everyone to get vaccinated as well as a booster jab when eligible – and said people should keep rooms ventilated, wear masks, take regular tests and self-isolate when symptomatic.

More than half a million booster jabs and third doses were given in the UK on Saturday – the second day that has happened since the booster rollout began.

A further 1,239 new daily cases of Omicron were also announced, bringing the total number of Omicron cases in the UK to 3,137 – although the real number is estimated to be much higher.

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