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Covid: ‘Too late’ to stop the spread of Omicron, scientific advisor warns

Another 86 cases were reported on Sunday, bringing the total to 246 (Image: EPA/Rex/AP)

A scientist advising the Government has warned it is ‘too late’ to effectively stop the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK – as cases increased by 50% within 24 hours.

Another 86 cases were reported on Sunday, bringing the total to 246. This is a huge jump from Saturday’s 160 total.

On Saturday, it was announced that all visitors to the UK will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test from Tuesday – while Nigeria is being added to the Government’s travel red list.

The ministers said the additional test was intended as a temporary measure following new data showing an increase in the number of new cases of the new strain of bacteria linked to foreign travel.

But Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of the Scientific Influenza Modeling (Spi-M) Group that advises the Government, said the measures would make no ‘material difference’ because of the variable The body is ‘spreading pretty quickly’.

He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: ‘I think it might have been a case of the stall door closing after the horse had bolted.

‘If Omicron is here in the UK, and it certainly is, if there is community transmission in the UK, and it certainly is, then that community transmission will spur a further wave. follow.

‘The cases being imported are important, we want to detect those and isolate any positive cases we find, just like we would for any case in any other country. where.

“But I think it’s too late to make a material difference to the course of the Omicron wave, if we’re going to have a difference.”

All visitors to the UK will have to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test from Tuesday (Image: Getty)
A scientist advising the Government said the measures would make no ‘material difference’ (Image: AP)

The tourism industry reacted with fury after the latest measures were announced, although ministers insisted they were ‘temporary’.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday: ‘I know it’s a burden on the tourism industry but we’ve made huge, huge strides in this country.

‘We have to take pre-targeted measures to prevent new variant seeding in this country to create a bigger problem.

‘We have taken a balanced approach but we are always wary of additional risks that keep us from moving forward.’

Prof Woolhouse said although the number of people with the Omicron variant was ‘remaining quite small’ and possibly in the hundreds, they were still ‘developing quite rapidly’.

However, he stressed that vaccination would still be ‘very, very good’ at protecting against the new variant.

Prof Woolhouse said the number of people with the Omicron variant was ‘increasing quite rapidly’ (Image: Reuters)

Statistics professor Sir David Spiegelhalter told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: ‘It’s a very difficult situation because we don’t have a lot of data yet, almost nothing from this country about the risks. what.

‘In South Africa, the data that came out showed pretty clear evidence of an increased risk of transmission and some evidence of people being hospitalized, but the reality could be milder but we don’t have enough yet. data to be able to speak.

‘It doesn’t seem like it’s really that serious if you get it, I think that’s all we can say at the moment.’

Asked if measures to combat the spread of Omicron had gone far enough, Professor David added: ‘It’s best to take precautions, when there’s so much we don’t know about… and when If we don’t know, it’s better to be safe than sorry. . ‘

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https://metro.co.uk/2021/12/05/covid-too-late-to-stop-spread-of-omicron-science-adviser-warns-15720862/ Covid: 'Too late' to stop the spread of Omicron, scientific advisor warns

Huynh Nguyen

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