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Covid alert level increased to 4

The decision was taken amid a rapid increase in Omicron cases,’ four UK medical chiefs said in a joint statement (Image: Reuters)

The UK’s Covid alert level has been raised to Level 4, meaning the outbreak is ‘generally circulating’ with high transmission or exponential growth.

The UK’s four chief medical officers said in a joint statement it was ‘due to the rapid rise of Omicron cases’.

They said early evidence suggests it spreads ‘much’ faster than Delta, and there have been people hospitalized with the new variant.

They say vaccines are not effective against the new strain of virus, stressing this makes people even more important than getting a booster shot.

It comes when Boris Johnson is set up spoke to the nation at 8 p.m. on the booster vaccination program.

England recorded 1,239 new confirmed cases of variant Omicron – a daily record number and almost double the previous high announced yesterday.

The UK’s Covid alert level (Image: UK Government)

It brings the total number of Omicron cases in the UK to 3,137, up 65% from the total of 1,898 cases in the UK yesterday.

The decision to raise the alert level follows advice from the UK Health Security Authority (UKHSA).

According to Government guidance, it means that the epidemic is ‘generally circulating, highly transmissible and the direct pressure of Covid-19 on health care services is widespread and substantial or increasing’ ‘, according to Government guidelines.

In a joint statement, NHS England’s CMOs and Professor Stephen Powis said the arrival of Omicron ‘adds to the risk and rapid increase for public and health services’.

They added: ‘Early evidence suggests that Omicron is spreading much faster than Delta and that the vaccine’s ability to protect against symptomatic disease from Omicron is reduced.

‘Severity data will become clearer in the coming weeks but hospitalizations from Omicron have been and are happening and these are likely to increase rapidly.’

Five officials, including England’s CMO Professor Chris Whitty, Northern Ireland’s Sir Michael McBride, Scotland’s Prof Gregor Smith and Wales’ Dr Frank Atherton, said the NHS had been under pressure ‘mainly due to pressure not to right of Covid’, with Omicron’s ability to get away with a vaccine ‘potentially’ adding to those needs.

They say: ‘It is extremely important that if you are eligible, you should get the Covid vaccine – whether this is your first, second or booster dose,’ they said.

‘People should continue to take reasonable precautions including ventilated rooms, use of face coverings, regular testing and isolation when symptomatic.’

Contact our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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https://metro.co.uk/2021/12/12/covid-alert-level-increased-to-level-4-15759376/?ITO=metro-trending Covid alert level increased to 4

Emma Bowman

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