Covid-19: Measures to tackle Omicron variant begin this week and countries reveal more restrictionson November 28, 2021 at 9:09 am

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Sunday morning.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Sunday morning. We’ll have another update for you tomorrow.

Mask wearing will be mandatory in shops and on public transport in England from Tuesday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said. PCR tests for everyone entering the UK will also be introduced and all contacts of new variant cases will have to self-isolate, even if fully jabbed. The measures include reinstating the travel red list with mandatory hotel quarantine for 10 countries. Mr Javid told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday he hoped the extra measures – which aim to tackle the Omicron variant – will be “temporary”, adding he thinks people will “take this more seriously”. He said he has asked the government’s vaccines advisers for “very quick advice” on broadening the booster programme to younger age groups and he expected that advice “imminently”. Our health and science correspondent James Gallagher looks at whether the measures will work.

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Countries around the world have been racing to contain the potentially more infectious Omicron strain first detected in South Africa. Israel is one of the latest countries to announce travel restrictions – the country is to ban foreigners from entering the country for 14 days and use surveillance to halt the strain’s spread, according to local media. The ban is expected to come into effect at midnight on Sunday, following full cabinet approval.

Passengers at Tel Aviv's airport, Israel. Photo: November 2021

Image source, Reuters

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Tighter restrictions have come into force in the Netherlands, amid record Covid cases and concerns over the new Omicron variant. For at least the next three weeks, hospitality and cultural venues such as cafes, museums and cinemas must close by 17:00. The government says the curbs are critical to protect hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. Meanwhile, some 61 people – who recently arrived on two KLM flights from South Africa – are being tested for the new variant.

A cafe in Amsterdam. Photo: November 2021

Image source, EPA

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South Africa has complained it is being punished – instead of applauded – for discovering the new variant Omicron. The foreign ministry made the statement as countries around the world restricted travel from southern Africa as details of the spread emerged. Its officials say South Africa should be praised for discovering Omicron, not hit with travel bans. The country first reported the variant on 24 November.

Train used as vaccination centre in East Rand, South Africa

Image source, Reuters

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Today is the deadline for the members of two key branches of the US military – the Navy and the Marines – to get Covid jabs. But thousands of America’s armed forces members remain unvaccinated. Some 2.1 million people are part of the US military, including active and non-active members, and defence officials have warned that troops that refuse could face a range of consequences. Our explainer looks at what these could be.

US military gets vaccinated

Image source, Getty Images

Wondering what the UK’s rules and guidance are for face masks and coverings? Here’s what we know.

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You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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