WHOLE households might have to stay at home if one person gets a positive lateral flow test, if ministers take scientists’ advice.
Experts who feed into Sage say that if one person has Omicron, their household probably does too.
They suggest that if a single person gets a positive lateral flow test before an event, such as a family gathering, the whole group should avoid going – even if they are negative.
But such a move could further cripple the economy, as hospitality bosses have already suffered a loss in takings over Christmas.
UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls said many businesses may not re-open as she pleaded with the Government to refrain from more Covid restrictions.
Stark warnings from Sage – the Government’s scientific advisory group -about the threat of Omicron have forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to consider a new lockdown, or at least some Covid restrictions, before the year is over.
It was warned that without extra measures to tackle the super infectious variant, Plan B of face masks and working from home would not be enough to prevent 3,000 hospital admissions per day.
But the PM's Cabinet and other angry Tory MPs are urging Mr Johnson to resist any limits to indoor socialising so the nation can enjoy the festive period, unlike 2020.
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No10 insiders insisted they are still focused on the jab rollout and pointed out that Plan B was only imposed less than two weeks ago.
The Sun is also urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.
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A booster shot is the best protection against Omicron, with early data suggesting it pushes efficacy back up to 75 per cent for infection, and 80 per cent for severe disease.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive said: “Once again, we urge everyone who is able to get a booster jab to come forward and do so. It is the best defence we have against this highly transmissible new variant."
NO NEGATIVE FLOW, NO GO
As the UK falls into the grips of Omicron, Government scientists have urged for more measures ahead of the New Year.
Currently people who live with someone who has Covid, tested with a PCR, do not have to self-isolate if they are double-jabbed.
If the infection is confirmed as Omicron, they are advised to take lateral flow tests every day but still do not have to self-isolate.
However, this does not go far enough amid the dangers of a highly transmissible strain, argue the Environmental Modelling Group (EMG) and Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M).
In a document published Saturday that discusses Covid interventions in light of Omicron, the groups say: “High household and secondary attack rates mean that if one person in a close-knit group (for example household, work team) tests positive, there is a significant chance that others are already infected.
“Therefore, if one person from a group tests positive prior to an event or gathering then none should attend.
“This is especially important in the festive season when family events may increase the risk of infecting the elderly or vulnerable.”
The paper highlights that people with Omicron are likely to pass the virus on to more people than those carrying Delta.
Called the “secondary attack rate”, they say it could be “significantly higher”.
Data from the UK Health and Security Agency suggests Omicron’s secondary attack rate may be almost double that of Delta.
An estimated 18 per cent of people with Omicron pass it on to someone else living in the home, compared to 10 per cent of people with Delta.
Other suggestions from EMG and SPI-M include that lateral flows should only be taken just before an event, as a negative result could be valid for only a few hours.
They said people should take rapid tests not only on the day of the event, but day two, three and four afterwards.
XMAS AT RISK
Sage warned ministers that indoor mixing is the “biggest risk factor” for the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Minutes from their meetings show the advise given to ministers was of a sombre tone, saying Omicron could not be held back by boosters alone.
It said the ramping up of the programme in recent days would not help the NHS in the near future, due to the delay in building immunity.
The experts warned there are likely to be 1,000 and 2,000 hospital admissions per day in England by the end of the year, even if transmission is reduced soon.
But without intervention beyond Plan B, modelling indicates a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England.
Currently around 800 people are being admitted in England every day.
New plans are being drawn up by Whitehall to tackle Omicron, with the country facing an abrupt full-scale lockdown as early as Boxing Day, the Sun revealed.
The plan has yet to be presented to ministers but it could impact New Year celebration plans.
A source said: “A set of proposals is being worked on that would let people celebrate Christmas, but then the handbrake would be pulled.”
Three options are being presented to the PM, according to The Telegraph.
The first option involves urging the public to limit the number of people they socialise with indoors in England, reports claim.
The second option includes the above – as well as mandatory social distancing and an 8pm pub and restaurant curfew.
Option three is a full, country-wide lockdown,
Any new legal restrictions would require the recall of MPs to Parliament to vote them through, but Mr Johnson is facing a huge rebellion.
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