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UK takes new measures to slow Omicron variant

Two cases of coronavirus Omicron variant detected in Britain
Two cases of coronavirus Omicron variant detected in Britain Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters
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By Costas Pitas

LONDON -Britain announced new measures on Saturday to try to slow the spread of the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant and a top health official said there was a "reasonable chance" that vaccines could be less effective against it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all arrivals would have to take a test and it was time to step up booster jabs.

"We will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result," Johnson told a news conference.

He said those who had come into contact with people testing positive for a suspected case of Omicron would have to self-isolate for 10 days and that the government would tighten up the rules on wearing face coverings. The programme to offer booster jabs would also be stepped up, he added.

Speaking alongside Johnson, England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said there was a reasonable chance that the newly identified variant could be less easy to tackle with vaccines.

"There is a reasonable chance that at least there will be some degree of vaccine escape with this variant," Whitty said.

Earlier on Saturday, health minister Sajid Javid said two linked cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in Britain connected to travel to southern Africa.

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