THE UK has recorded its first death from the Frankenstein Omicron strain of Covid-19.
This morning it was revealed ten patients were in English hospitals with the mutated strain – all aged between 18-85 years old, most having had two jabs.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccination clinic in London today, Boris Johnson said: "Sadly yes Omicron is producing hospitalisations and sadly at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron.
The revelation came just hours after the Prime Minister addressed the nation, urging Brits to get their booster jabs with are understood to dramatically boost protection against the hugely transmissible Omicron strain.
The country is already answering the call, with queues of up to five hours being reported in some locations across the country.
Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest news and updates…
- John Hall
Major change coming into play tomorrow
MAJOR change in England’s testing rules comes into effect tomorrow to beat the Omicron Covid variant.
The move will prevent a "winter pingdemic", whereby millions of people are forced into self-isolation on a precautionary basis.
Currently the rules state that people who are contacts of someone with the super-fast spreading Omicron variant have to self-isolate.
But from Tuesday, this will be scrapped and double-jabbed people identified as a contact of someone with Covid will be told to take a daily rapid test for seven days instead.
The lateral flow tests, which give results in less than 30 minutes, can be ordered for free online and sent to your home address, or picked up from a pharmacy.
However, all packs of Covid tests have been stripped clean from the official site, as people rushed to order in stocks ahead of Christmas.
- John Hall
Lateral flow tests RUN OUT
All packs of Covid tests have been stripped clean from the official site, as people rushed to order in stocks ahead of Christmas.
New rules means that from tomorrow anyone who has been in contact with someone carrying the variant Omicron must test daily using a LFT for seven days.
And Brits have once more been encouraged to test themselves twice a week, or before going to any events, to make sure they aren't carrying the virus.
But people trying to order the packs have today been told: "There are no more home tests available.
"Try again later. Or, you can go back and try to book a test site appointment instead."
- John Hall
How Omicron impacts boosters
The discovery of a new variant of concern, Omicron has pushed the government to change the rules in the UK.
Face masks and coverings are once again mandatory in shops and on public transport, with people encouraged to work from home.
Last night Brits were also told they would be getting their booster jabs early – but that they could not have it less than three months after their second dose.
A promising study found vaccines do work to stop the spread of Omicron.
Brits have been urged by medical experts as well as ministers to come forward and get their Covid vaccines as well as their booster doses.
- John Hall
Who can book a booster?
Only those who had their second coronavirus vaccine dose three months ago are eligible for a booster shot, because immunity starts to wane at this point.
People who will be invited for a booster now includes all over-18s, and:
- people aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid
- people aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from Covid
- people aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
How to book your booster vaccine
You may be called forward by your local GP, or hospital trust, but the most likely option is the NHS will announce or let you know your age group can book in.
Then you need to go to the dedicated NHS booking site to find a location and time slot that works for you.
When you book your jab, you’ll only need to select a time and day for one slot – unlike booking the first and second dose when you were asked to book them both at once.
If you have recently had coronavirus then you should wait four weeks before booking your appointment.
To book your appointment you need to click the green “book now” button.
If you have your NHS number it will make it a little bit faster to book, if not you then have to fill out all of your personal details.
People can also book by calling 119.
Omicron patients (Continued…)
The Health Secretary couldn't say whether any of the patients with the new Covid strain are seriously ill.
He also didn't specify whether catching Omicron was the cause of their hospitalisation.
Mr Javid did confirm there haven't yet been any deaths as a result of of it.
But he added: "There is always a lag between infection and then hospitalisation and then, sadly, death."
Ten Omicron patients in UK hospitals
THERE are now 10 people in hospitals in England who have tested positive for the Omicron variant, Sajid Javid said today.
The health secretary made the announcement as he launched a "new national mission" to get a million boosters in arms every day.
He warned the new Covid variant is now spreading at a "phenomenal rate" and is doubling every two to three days.
There have been around 3,000 confirmed cases of Omicron in England.
Mr Javid said it already accounts for 40% of new cases in London and will become the UK's dominant strain shortly.
The health secretary said two jabs "don't work" against the new strain but that "three do" as he urged Brits to get their boosters.
Omicron may only cause minor cold-like symptoms even in the elderly — as long as they have been jabbed, a top scientist says.
Despite being highly contagious, initial studies indicate the new strain does not often lead to serious disease like the Delta variant.
Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London, examined UK Omicron super-spreader events involving older people — and found the patients mainly suffered “sniffles”.
He said: “What we’re seeing so far is that symptoms are very, very mild.
“Most of my information comes from one big event, a 60th birthday party where 18 people aged 60 to 75 spent the night together in a hotel.
"Most of them had symptoms of a cold — sniffles, sore throat and fatigue were common.
"Only two had classic symptoms of Covid, fever and loss of smell or taste.
“Nobody had to see their doctor or go to hospital.”
NHS booster website crashes
The website has crashed as millions of Brits rush to get their booster jab following Boris Johnson's Omicron warnings last night.
Those trying to book their third vaccination online have been told since 8pm yesterday that the site is "currently experiencing technical difficulties".
After being placed in a 'queue', many users found they were unable to access the booking form at all.
The site also showed repeated error messages and 'bad gateway requests'.
Some who tried for hours to book their jab described it as "harder than getting Glastonbury tickets".
- John Hall
Routine appointments might be scrapped
The huge booster drive will mean NHS chiefs are forced to scrap some routine appointments to get all hands to the deck to get 19million jabs in arms before the end of the year.
But the PM warned that if the jab rollout isn't ramped up now, it could mean a wave of Omicron infections "so big" that cancellations and disruptions such as the loss of cancer appointments "would be even greater next year".
- John Hall
Boris Johnson addressed the nation last night
The PM told the nation last night: "Today we are launching the Omicron Emergency Boost – a national mission unlike anything we have done before in the vaccination programme – to Get Boosted Now.
"A fortnight ago I said we would offer every eligible adult a booster by the end of January.
"Today, in light of this Omicron Emergency, I am bringing that target forward by a whole month.
"Everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will have the chance to get their booster before the New Year."
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