Covid: Sajid Javid to deliver Commons update on Omicron this afternoon

Sajid Javid will give an update in the House of Commons (PA Media)

Health secretary Sajid Javid will update MPs on the latest Covid developments in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

It follows a decision over the weekend to require pre-departure tests for people travelling to the UK as part of the effort to contain the Omicron variant.

Ministers introduced fresh measures last week to curb the spread of the new strain, which scientists fear is more transmissible and potentially resistant to vaccines.

There have been 246 official cases of Omicron detected in the UK so far, though experts have warned it could become the dominant strain of the virus within a month.

He said that he expected the variant to become dominant “within the next weeks or a month” – but claimed restrictions were unlikely to be put in place until the New Year.

Elsewhere, Boris Johnson defended his decision to place countries in Africa on the red list despite experts suggesting the move would have a limited impact on transmission. “We’re now toughening those measures up as we see the spread of Omicron around the world.”

Visiting police in Merseyside, the Prime Minister responded: “We were the first country in the world to take decisive measures to tackle Omicron. We put about 10 countries automatically, immediately, on to the red list and we said that anybody coming from any country in the world would have to quarantine for a couple of days.

“We’re now toughening those measures up as we see the spread of Omicron around the world.”

Meanwhile, a leading health expert said Britons should work from home and avoid Christmas parties to stem the spread of the variant this winter.

Professor Tim Spector, the creator of the ZOE app, told Times Radio the UK should be “much more open-minded about who we are testing” and “get more people to isolate at least for a few days with cold-like symptoms”.

“At the moment, we’re estimating that somewhere between one and three and one in four colds are actually due to Covid,” he said.

“And so that’s quite a high rate of people that are currently not even bothered to get a lateral flow test, or getting a PCR test, going to parties and spreading it around.

“So if that transfers to Omicron then we’re going to be compiling that problem much faster than we would need to.”

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