Covid: Booster push to tackle Omicron and new working from home guidanceon December 13, 2021 at 8:23 am

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

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

Extra vaccine sites, more appointments, additional volunteer vaccinators and military help are all part of plans to help achieve the prime minister’s target to offer boosters to everyone over 18 in England before the new year. Boris Johnson declared “an emergency in our battle with the new variant Omicron” in a TV statement on Sunday evening, revealing the country faces a “tidal wave” of the strain. Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed on Monday that there are about 10 patients in hospital in England with Omicron – but he said there had not been any deaths with the variant.

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To help stop the spread of Omicron, people should now work from home if they can. The measure’s being reintroduced in England from Monday as part of the government’s Plan B, which brings the nation in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the move has left some businesses in city centres fearing they will lose customers as Christmas approaches.

A woman works on her laptop on the sofa

Image source, Getty Images

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Politicians in Wales say new restrictions are likely “in the next few weeks” to tackle Omicron. It’s a “fast-moving form of coronavirus” which could lead to large numbers of people needing treatment from an already under-pressure NHS, says First Minister Mark Drakeford. The Welsh government wants “to act proportionately”, says health minister Eluned Morgan, but the Tories are calling for vaccine boosters to be ramped up. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned further measures might be needed in the weeks ahead.

A man is vaccinated at the Cardiff Bay mass vaccination centre

Image source, Getty Images

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As India tries to contain the spread of the Omicron variant, laboratories like the National Institute of Virology are working round the clock to identify people who might be infected. It’s been receiving about 100 swabs a day – five times more than before the strain emerged. So what’s changed since India was criticised over its handling of the Delta variant, which was first detected in the country? We’ve taken a look.

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What do you do when you want to be somewhere but you just can’t get there and video calls don’t cut it? The boss of a Swiss watch brand found a solution – hologram technology. Unable to fly to China due to coronavirus restrictions, Christoph Grainger-Herr was beamed into a world trade event where he could talk to people, and see and hear them in real time. Here’s the story.

Christoph Grainger-Herr, chief executive of Swiss watchmaker IWC

Image source, Sawyer Cheng

Government statistics show 146,439 people have now died, with 52 deaths reported in the latest 24-hour period. In total, 10,819,515 people have tested positive, up 48,854 in the latest 24-hour period. Latest figures show 7,413 people in hospital. In total, 51,254,510 people have received their first vaccination. Updated 12 Dec.

Take a look at the self-isolation rules, which are changing due to the Omicron variant.

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

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