MAJOR new travel changes are set to be introduced in a bid to fight the spread of the Omicron Covid variant.
The new measures include a PCR test on day two for Covid-19 for travellers who have arrived in the UK as well as mandatory self-isolation until they get a negative result.
Anyone who will be in contact with someone infected with the super strain will also need to isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the PM said: “We’re not going to stop people travelling, I want to stress that, we’re not going to stop people travelling, but 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.
“Second, we need to slow down the spread of this variant here in the UK, because measures at the border can only ever minimise and delay the arrival of a new variant rather than stop it all together.”
From 4am on Sunday, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola will be added to the travel ban list.
Those who have returned from these four countries in the last 10 days must isolate and get a PCR test.
Senior Government scientists said the mutant variant was the “worst variant they have seen so far” – with vaccines expected to be at least a third less effective against it.
Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our world class genomic sequencing we have been made aware of two UK cases of the Omicron variant. We have moved rapidly and the individuals are self-isolating while contact tracing is ongoing.
“We will do all we can to protect the UK public against this emerging threat and that is why we are surging testing capacity to the impacted communities and introducing travel restrictions on a further four countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. We will not hesitate to take further action if required.
“This is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic.
“Getting the vaccine has never been more important – please come forward for your first jab if you haven’t already and if eligible, book your booster as soon as possible.”
Experts warn the strain is behind an explosion of new cases in South Africa, with some regions seeing a six-fold rise in infections in a matter of days.
Flights from South Africa as well Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe were suspended from midday on Friday and all six countries were added to the red list.
Sajid Javid said the new variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and added “the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective”.
Officials are also desperately trying to trace thousands who have arrived from South Africa in the past ten days.
As well as South Africa, it has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong.
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