The Omicron variant is spreading across the globe, with cases now in 52 countries. Speaking from the Commons this afternoon, Mr Javid said there have been 261 confirmed cases of Omicron in England, 71 in Scotland and four in Wales. In total, the number of confirmed Omicron cases in the UK is 336 and the Health Secretary has said this includes cases with no links to international travel, meaning community transmission is to blame.
The Health Secretary said: “We can conclude there is now community transmission across multiple regions in the UK.”
He told MPs “multiple regions of England” were seeing cases of the variant that were not linked to international travel.
Mr Javid said the Government is taking “early action now so we don’t have to take tougher action later on”.
He said: “When this new variant is appearing in more and more countries every day we also need to look beyond the red list and strengthen our measures for a wider range of travellers to make sure they give us the protection we need against this potential threat.”
So what measures has Mr Javid announced today? Here are the latest Covid rules and how they could affect you.
Mr Javid told the commons 21 Omicron cases in England have been linked to travel from Nigeria – and so the country will be added to the travel Red List.
Elsewhere, from 4am on Tuesday, everyone arriving in the UK must have taken a coronavirus test 48 hours before their departure.
This applies to any travellers – vaccinated or unvaccinated – from the age of 12 and above.
Lateral flow tests are accepted, which are cheaper and quicker than PCR tests.
NHS tests cannot be used for international travel and so people must purchase a test from a private company.
Mr Javid said pre-departure testing “could have a greater role to play in identifying positive cases before travel” because of new data which shows Omicron could have a shorter window between infection and infectiousness.
He said: “From 4am tomorrow, anyone travelling to the UK from countries that are not on the red list must also show proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test.
“This applies to any vaccinated travellers, so whether you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated, and anyone aged 12 and above.”
He added: “I know that these measures, of course, they will bring disruption and that they will impact people’s plans to spend time with their loved ones, especially over this festive period, but we’re taking this early action now so we don’t have to take tougher action later on, and so that we can take every opportunity to prevent more cases from arriving in our country.”
Mr Javid said these measures would be “temporary” while “we improve our understanding of Omicron”.
He adding the Government will review data pertaining to the Omicron variant and the House of Commons will be updated next week.
Aside from travel, the Health Secretary has also announced measures to “strengthening vital defences here at home”.
Mr Javid detailed a new treatment that has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
He also urged those eligible to step forward and receive their vaccinations and booster jab.
The UK has delivered 450,000 booster jabs in a single day, with 10,000 new vaccinators to be hired.
Mr Javid said vaccines will be available at 1,500 pharmacies, as well as dedicated vaccination centres and new hospital hubs.
This is a breaking story, more to follow