Omicron variant: Don't socialise unless necessary, urges Dr Jenny Harries - but govt disagrees

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Government advice on limiting social contact and working from home has not changed, Downing St says, despite Dr Jenny Harries warning the public that people should not socialise “when we don’t particularly need to”.

Omicron variant: Don’t socialise unless necessary, urges Dr Jenny Harries - but govt disagrees
© PA Archive Senior health official Dr Jenny Harries has said it is ‘very likely’ more Omicoron cases will be found in the UK this week (Toby Melville/PA) – PA Archive

With the Government introducing mandatory mask wearing on public transport and in shops from this morning as it looks to limit the spread of new Covid variant Omicron, Dr Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, urged people to “decrease social contacts”.

She also appeared to advocate for more people working from home.

Dr Harries said the advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) “has shown that if we have significant surges in Covid cases, then actually working from home is one of the key ones to implement and that’s why it is in Plan B”.

She said it was very early stages of the outbreak but “certainly, if we see surges, then working from home will be a good thing to do”.

However Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said this was not the Government’s current advice, which was updated at the weekend as Omicron cases began to spread in the UK.

Asked about Dr Harries’ comments, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Our advice to the public is as set out at the weekend. We have put out advice on face coverings and inward travellers and those who are identified as having the Omicron variant of Coronavirus.

“Beyond that we haven’t set out any further guidance for the public.”

Pressed on whether people should follow Downing Street’s guidance or the advice from Dr Harries, the PM’s spokesman added: “The public should follow the guidance as set out by the Government and by the Prime Minister at the weekend.” He said it was a “proportionate and responsible” approach.

Mr Johnson is due to lead a Downing Street press conference as part of the Government’s drive to encourage take-up of booster jabs, after the rollout was extended to all over-18s by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

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