Boris Johnson covid announcement – At least a MONTH before UK returns to normal & Plan B work from home & masks scrapped

BRITAIN won't begin to return to normal for at least another month as it was revealed facemask and work from home rules are to stay in place.

Yesterday Boris Johnson said Plan B rules won't be scrapped for another three weeks, fuelling optimism that the country's booster rollout could see a shift to normal life shortly afterwards.

The PM insisted keeping the "balanced" measures were necessary to help fight "rapidly" rising Omicron cases and hospitalisations.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: "So in response to the latest data, the Cabinet agreed this morning that we should stick with Plan B for another three weeks, with a further review before the regulations expire on 26 January."

But in an optimistic outlook he all but ruled out returning to a full-fat lockdown and warned crippling restrictions would take a wrecking ball to livelihoods.

Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Louis Allwood

    Kids aged 5 to 11 could get Covid vaccines in weeks

    Speaking to the i Professor Russell Viner said: “Five to 11s are probably the group least affected by Covid disease.

    “The thing about Covid is it’s got the most extraordinary age risk profile… to be honest, five to 11 is the healthiest time of our life.

    “It’s the time when we’re least likely to die or get sick from almost anything, and that is true of Covid.

    “However, I expect and I would like the Government to include educational disruption and mental health issues in the decision, which is what happened with teenagers.

    “I think it’s a very marginal medical decision, but if you include those broader issues.

    “I think given the extremely promising safety profile in children– but I think the balance of risks is towards vaccination.

    “We can be fairly sure that this is really a very safe vaccination for the five to 11-year-olds."

  • Louis Allwood

    Kids aged 5 to 11 could get Covid vaccines in weeks

    Experts believe that the roll out of jabs for kids aged five to 11 may be key to stop disrupting education because of staff shortages.

    Professor Russell Viner believes that the “balance of risks” indicates that schoolchildren should be vaccinated.

    Prof Viner, from University College London, is an expert in child and adolescent health and is a member of SAGE.

    He believes that while the age group are the least affected by covid sickness, but if they were jabbed then it could stop the spread of the virus to staff.

  • Louis Allwood

    Covid round up

    • The PM visited a vaccination centre as he urged people to get boosted
    • Pre-departure and PCR tests for travel were axed in a boost for holidays
    • Grant Shapps said ALL travel tests could soon be scrapped in a win
    • Louis Allwood

      Brits could be ‘back to normal’ by February

      Thanks to the booster rollout, the PM said the country will be in a stronger position to fight Omicron when Plan B measures expire in three weeks.

      His upbeat outlook in the Commons yesterday fuelled optimism that working from home, mandatory masks and vaccine passports won't continue next month.

      Tory MPs praised the PM for resisting doomster demands for more restrictions and urged him to throw off the remaining curbs.

      Mr Johnson said: "As Omicron blows through and it is is very much my hope and belief that it will, I do believe we will get back to something much closer to normality."

      While infections hit 194,000 yesterday, ministers are encouraged by growing evidence that Omicron is far milder than previous strains.

    • Louis Allwood

      Fourth jab could be on the way

      Mr Johnson hinted NHS and social care staff would be given fourth jabs as the effect of boosters might be waning.

      He hopes the UK can follow the US and cut isolation from seven to five days if scientists can show there is a low infection risk.

      The ONS found one in ten young people were infected in the week to December 31, with nine out of ten being Omicron.

      Another 194,747 infections were confirmed yesterday, a drop from Tuesday but the second highest figure so far. There were 334 more deaths, with figures still affected by the bank holiday.

    • Louis Allwood

      ALL travel tests could soon be ditched

      Grant Shapps confirmed that he hopes for test-free travel in the near future, with vaccinations being the key to opening up travel without restriction.

      Speaking to Times Radio Breakfast, he said: "I think I could see a world in which you didn't need to do testing at all.

      "I can't guarantee it will be the same the other way around because that depends on what other countries around the world decide to put in place

      "I do imagine that we will, for the foreseeable future, be living in a world where vaccination status is something that countries are looking for.

      "Certainly when I speak to a lot of my opposite numbers around the world. That's what they ask about".

      The Prime Minister announced the new rule changes yesterday, which include the end to the pre-departure test required by all arrivals.

    • Louis Allwood

      Omicron cases may have peaked

      Sarah Crofts, from the ONS, said: “There are early signs of a potential slowing but we continue to see infections increase, with Omicron now the dominant variant across all four nations.”

      Relieved MPs heaped praise on Boris Johnson for “standing firm” against lockdown.

      The PM says he does not believe the country needs to be plunged into further restrictions — but he admitted the NHS would again come under huge strain.

      Mr Johnson, addressing the Commons for the first time this year, said: “I know some may ask the opposite question whether we should go even further and move towards a full lockdown but lockdowns are not cost free. They impose a devastating toll on our physical and mental well-being, on businesses, jobs and livelihoods — and worst of all, on the life chances of our children.

      “So this Government does not believe we need to shut down our country again. We simply cannot go on by reaching endlessly for lockdowns.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Hospital struggles

      Health bosses revealed 17 Greater Manchester hospitals could no longer provide priority services.

      Hundreds of other patients have also had major operations cancelled, with many more expected in the coming weeks.

      Three hospitals under the University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust have reduced operations thanks to their "extremely busy" urgent care services and number of staff off sick.

      And Derriford Hospital in Plymouth is facing similar issues, with almost 500 staff absences.

      Extra beds are being used at an emergency Nightingale hospital in Manchester to help deal with wards at capacity.

    • Louis Allwood

      School ventilation

      The Government announced that a further 7,000 air cleaning units will be rolled out to classrooms across the country.

      Thousands of new air filters will be introduced to protect face-to-face education and minimise disruption, ahead of the pupils returning to the classroom this week.

      Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has announced an additional 7,000 air cleaning units to be provided to early years, schools and colleges to improve ventilation in teaching spaces.

    • Louis Allwood

      Boosters provide the most protection

      It comes as a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

      Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

      The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    • Louis Allwood

      Tinder date were forced to isolate together after testing positive

      TikToker Sarah, who posts with the handle @poppymoore777, said that she had only just met up with her match from the popular app when they discovered they were infected.

      The duo isolated at his place despite hardly knowing each other and couldn't see anyone else for the full seven days of quarantine.

      Sarah documented the isolation period with the new fella and shared updates with fans on social media.

      The couple made the best of the situation, ordering takeaways, watching Geordie Shore and playing Mario Kart.

      In the videos Sarah started by sharing a shot of her positive Covid test and then by displaying the empty beer crates and takeaway bags they had worked through together.

      Fellow TikTok users were enthralled by the unlikely turn of events with the videos amassing more than three million views.

    • Louis Allwood

      Covid coma treated with Viagra

      Monica Almeida, 37, was just 72 hours from her ventilator being turned off when medics had the idea to use the erectile dysfunction drug.

      The level of oxygen the mum-of-two needed dropped by half and her condition improved after a week – meaning she made it home for Christmas.

      Monica has now praised the quick-thinking doctors for using the drug, which helped opened up her airwaves.

      The specialist respiratory nurse, from Gainsborough Lincs, said: "I had a little joke with the consultant after I came round because I knew him.

      "He told me it was the Viagra, I laughed and thought he was joking, but he said 'no, really, you've had a large dose of Viagra.' 

      "It was my little Christmas miracle."

    • Louis Allwood

      Who are our critical workers?

      It may sound obvious, but those whose work is considered critical to the coronavirus response are considered critical workers.

      This means their roles cannot be performed from home or their line of work is not deemed essential in the country’s response efforts.

      Health and social care – This includes, but is not limited to, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers

      Education and child care – This includes, but is not limited to:childcare support and teaching staff, social workers

      Utilities, communication and financial services – This includes, but again is not limited to:

      • staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure)
      • the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage)
      • information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response

      Read the list in full here.

      ‘The best New Year’s resolution is to get vaccinated’

      This is a comment piece by Sajid Javid

      ONE year ago today, the UK made history by becoming the first country in the world to deploy the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

      Since then, around 50 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered in the UK, saving millions of lives and reducing the pressure on health services.

      The vaccine is a brilliant example of British innovation and scientific excellence, backed by government investment.

      Despite rising cases and hospitalisations, curbs on our freedom must be a last resort and vaccinations are the best way to protect people and to help us to live with this virus. 

      If you haven’t already, the best new year’s resolution you can make is to play your part and join this national mission by getting vaccinated as soon as you can to protect yourselves, your loved ones and the health services we all rely on.

      Read the article in full here.

      Holiday boost as pre-departure tests scrapped

      BRITS have been given a holiday boost as Government confirmed yesterday that pre-departure tests will be scrapped – and day two tests can be swapped for cheaper lateral flow tests.

      Holidaymakers will no longer need to take Covid tests before they return to the UK, which risked travellers being stranded abroad if they tested positive.

      Day two test rules will also change, with Brits no longer forced to pay for expensive PCR tests, and can instead have a cheaper lateral flow.

      This means families could save hundreds of pounds on their holidays, with the £22 pre-departure scrapped – saving £88 for a family of four.

      And lateral flows cost around £60 on average less than PCR tests – saving £240 per family.

      Brits who are fully vaccinated also won’t have to isolate on their return – currently they have to wait for the results of their day two test.

      The new rules will be in place from 4am on Friday.

      • Milica Cosic

        The two ‘strange’ Omicron symptoms

        Two strange symptoms that have popped up for sufferers are pink eye or conjunctivitis and hair loss.

        Eye trouble can appear alongside other symptoms, which is within about two days for Omicron, and hair loss is more likely near the end of an illness.

        According to Healthline, the virus enters the body's cells through receptors for the enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) by tricking it into thinking it's the enzyme rather than Covid.

        And although hair loss is not a typical Covid symptom, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association hair shedding is quite common after a high fever.

      • Milica Cosic

        Major Covid news you may have missed

        • Multiple trusts around the country have declared critical incidents, with reports saying Greater Manchester's hospital beds are 96 per cent full.
        • It comes as Brits who test positive with a DIY lateral flow test won't need to do a follow-up PCR check from January 11.
        • Instead, people in England can self-isolate for a week as long as they are negative on day six and seven.
        • Currently, Brits must have a gold-standard PCR swab after a positive lateral flow – and this is still the case until the new rules comes in.

        The days you are most contagious when you have Covid

        THE days when people with Covid-19 are at their most contagious have been revealed.

        "It is taking less time from when someone is exposed to Covid to potentially develop an infection," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday, NBC Chicago reports.

        "It is taking less time to develop symptoms, it is taking less time that someone may be infectious and it is, for many people, taking less time to recover… Because many more people are vaccinated."

        CDC data shows that after seven days, the risk of transmission is drastically reduced.

        "In that five-to-seven-day window, you know, there's some depending on whether people have been vaccinated, underlying conditions, etc., but the risk drops a lot and the feeling is that in the general population, combined with masking, etc. the risk really is very low," Arwady explained.

        Booster for Brits

        The PM has said: "We can keep our schools and our businesses open, and we can find a way to live with this virus."

        He added the country has a "good chance of getting through the Omicron wave without the need for further restrictions" and ruled out a full-fat lockdown.

        Mr Johnson is confident that boosters, rather than crippling Covid curbs, give Brits the best chance of beating the virus and sent up another plea for people to get jabbed.

        The Sun's Jab's Army campaign is helping turbo-charge the rollout by getting vital shots into arms.

        Around 100,000 critical workers to have daily tests

        The PM has said: “The weeks ahead are going to be challenging. There is no escaping the fact that some services will be disrupted by staff absences.

        “We’ve been working through Christmas to prepare for this where possible.

        “The Government is acting to protect critical national services to keep supply chains open and fortify our NHS to withstand the pressures ahead.

        “We’ve identified 100,000 in areas from food processing, to transport, to border force and from January 10, we’ll be rolling out lateral flow testing to all these workers on every working day.

        “We’ll be sending testing kits directly to these organisations and liaising with them on the logistics.”

        Minister confirms how many Brits are currently isolating

        A MILLION Brits are currently isolating with Covid, a minister confirmed yesterday amid furious calls to slash the quarantine period to five days.

        After days of the Government refusing to clarify the scale of the problem, Care Minister Gillian Keegan confirmed "around a million" people are hunkering at home.

        However, top doc Sir Patrick Vallance told the nation "it was now clear" the variant was not as severe as previous mutations following a string of studies finding it cuts the risk of serious illness by up to 70 per cent.

        • Milica Cosic

          Omicron signs you should NOT ignore

          Experts across the globe have highlighted at least eight early warning signs of Omicron you should never ignore.

          They seem to last for around five days, but of course can go quicker, and some can linger.

          If you have Covid symptoms of any kind, you should get a PCR test and self-isolate until the results come back.

          The common early warning signs of Omicron include:

          • Scratchy throat
          • Lower back pain
          • Runny nose/congestion
          • Headache
          • Fatigue 
          • Sneezing
          • Night sweats
          • Body aches 

          Covid boosters protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

          The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

          Lateral flow will ‘no longer need follow-up PCR check’

          BRITS who test positive with a DIY lateral flow test will no longer need a follow-up PCR check under imminent rule changes.

          Instead, they will be told to self-isolate for a week as long as they are negative on day six and seven.

          Officials hope a change in testing rules will also reduce infection spread, as Brits will no longer leave home to get an extra test.

          A health source said: “The overwhelming likelihood is that if you have a positive lateral flow, then you are infectious.

          “So there is no need for an extra PCR check when testing is already under huge strain.”

          TODAY, 13:00

          'New Covid side effect left me feeling feral'

          Olivia Molly Rogers, former Miss Universe contestant, told her 175,000 Instagram followers that she’d experienced the “most random” side effect of the virus.

          The Australian native said she had been non-stop burping since her diagnosis.

          She wrote on her Instagram story: "I have the most random (but kind of funny) symptom. I can’t stop burping. 

          “I googled it and apparently it’s part of the gastrointestinal symptoms of Covid, not that common though. Has anyone else had this with Covid?"

          A poll of her followers revealed that some 16 per cent had also been burping a lot more than usual during Covid.

          Calls for isolation cut down

          Calls to cut the Covid testing requirements comes as Downing Street is urged to follow America's lead and reduce isolation to five days to free up shut-in Brits.

          Worst estimates claim up to a quarter of public sector workers could be self-isolating because Omicron is so easy to catch.

          That’s more than a million frontline staff stuck at home for seven days or more as hospitalisations rise.

          Experts have cautioned that continuing with the current seven-day isolation plans will mean that the NHS is understaffed.

          Scientists have found that the Omicron variant – which is now responsible for 90 per cent of cases in the UK – is milder, with most people suffering cold-like symptoms.

          A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

          Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

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