In an attempt to stop the spread of the Omicron mutation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday the need for the resumption of teleworking, the use of a mask in most enclosed spaces and the presentation of a valid vaccine certificate for entry into clubs.
"From Monday, you have to work from home, if you can," Johnson told a news conference last night. The vaccination certificate issued by the National Health Service (NHS) will be required to be displayed by anyone who wants to enter clubs and other places where large crowds gather. The measure will take effect in a week.
The spread of the variant implies that based on the calculations the Omicron infections in the United Kingdom "could exceed 1 million" by the end of the month
In addition to promoting teleworking, Johnson said mask use would be mandatory in most enclosed spaces, including theaters and cinemas. Masks were already mandatory on public transport and in stores. Some exceptions will still apply, such as when people eat, drink, sing or exercise.
"It is becoming increasingly clear that Omicron is spreading much faster than the previous version, the Delta, since 568 cases have been identified in Britain so far. "The number of cases seems to be doubling every two to three days and this exponential increase could lead to an increase in hospital admissions and, unfortunately, an increase in deaths.
"That is why the implementation of Plan B in England is the 'reasonable choice' to give time to speed up the campaign to deliver booster doses of the vaccine," he said.
Johnson stressed that the country could not continue imposing restrictions indefinitely on the daily lives of citizens simply because some are not vaccinated. "I really think we will have a discussion about the ways we are dealing with the pandemic. "Because I want to be absolutely clear, I do not think we can go on indefinitely with non-pharmaceutical interventions - I mean the restrictions on people's lifestyles - simply because a significant percentage of the population, unfortunately, has not yet been vaccinated."
Meanwhile, the UK's health minister, Sajid Javid, told British MPs on Wednesday night that although 568 cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus had been detected in the country so far, the actual number was probably 20 times higher, or about 10,000.
The spread of the variant, the minister added, implies that based on the calculations the Omicron infections in the United Kingdom "could exceed 1 million" by the end of the month, the Minister said Wednesday.
[With information from KYPE and AMNA]