Boris Johnson holds Covid press conference – follow live

Watch live as Boris Johnson holds press conference on Omicron Covid variant

Boris Johnson is addressing the nation from Downing Street, where he is expected to outline so-called “further measures”, after the UK detected its first two cases of the new Omicron Covid variant.

The cases – identified in Brentwood, Essex, and Nottingham late last night – are “linked” and have both been connected to travel to southern Africa, according to health officials. Targeted testing is now being carried out at locations where the positive cases were likely to have been infectious.

Health secretary Sajid Javid has announced four more countries – Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia – are being added to the travel “red list” from Sunday, requiring arrivals to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

He added that the PM will “set out further measures” later today, alongside England’s chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser.

Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford vaccine programme, has said it is “extremely unlikely” the Omicron variant will trigger a major new wave of the pandemic in the UK, despite the sudden return of travel restrictions.

Follow our live coverage below


PM ‘confident’ this Christmas will be better than last

Taking questions from the media, Johnson says he is “confident that this Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas” when asked about the possibility of another festive lockdown.

He also insists the UK is in a much stronger position than other parts of the world, largely due to its vaccine and booster rollout.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:22


Face masks compulsory ‘on public transport and in shops’ – No 10

Despite Johnson’s vague words on face covering, Downing Street has tweeted that they will in fact be compulsory again in certain settings.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:20


Whitty urges unvaccinated people to get a jab

Johnson has handed over to Chris Whitty now, who is explaining a series of slides which show that cases rose again through November after a dip in October.

Hospitalisations and the number of deaths are down, though, he confirms.

Whitty urges unvaccinated people to go out and get a jab as soon as possible.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:14


Face masks to be worn in shops and and on transport

The PM announces a return to wearing face coverings in shops and on public transport, saying the rules on this “will be tightened”.

In cities such as London, this is already the norm on public transport, but Johnson suggests it will now be expected for all regions to do so in enclosed public spaces.

Calling the measures “temporary and precautionary”, Johnson says the government will “review them in three weeks”.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:12


All UK arrivals to take PCRs again and isolate until negative

Johnson says he wants to “stress” people will not be stopped from travelling, but that all arrivals to the UK have to take a PCR test by the second day of their arrival and self isolate until they have a negative result.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:09


PM says variant spreads between vaccinated people

Johnson says scientists believe Omicron spreads very rapidly and can spread between two people who are doubled vaccinated.

He adds that the new variant diverges from previous configurations of the virus and reduces protection from vaccines over time.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:07


Watch live as PM holds briefing on Omicron Covid variant

Watch live as Boris Johnson holds press conference on Omicron Covid variant

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:06


Boris Johnson to address nation at 5pm

The PM will hold a Downing Street press conference in a few minutes.

He will be joined by Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, and chief scientific adviser Prof Patrick Vallance.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 17:02


Timeline of Omicron discovery to arrival in UK

Two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have now been detected in the UK.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how the variant went from an emerging cause for concern in southern parts of Africa to arriving in Britain.

UK scientists first become aware of the new variant after samples are uploaded to a coronavirus variant tracking website from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana.

Downing Street says the variant will be kept under “close investigation”.

Health secretary Sajid Javid says early indicators show it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines may be less effective against it.

It is announced that from the next day, six southern African countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana – will be added to the travel red list, meaning flights are suspended.

People arriving before then are told to self-isolate at home and take a PCR test on day two and day eight. Anyone who arrived up to 10 days prior are also told to take tests.

Mr Javid said scientists are “deeply concerned” about the variant, and mentioned turning to Plan B of coronavirus restrictions.

Scientists describe the variant as “very serious”, with professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, declaring it will “almost certainly” make the vaccines less effective.

Mr Javid updates MPs in the Commons on the variant called B.1.1.529, saying it “is highly likely that it has now spread to other countries”. He confirms the government is still following Plan A for managing Covid in the autumn and winter, but warns “if we need to go further, we will”.

Downing Street later urges those who have recently returned from one of the six southern African countries not to wait for NHS Test and Trace to contact them before getting tested.

Later in the day, it is designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation, and named Omicron.

Boris Johnson speaks to South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss the challenges of the variant.

Two cases of the Omicron Covid variant are discovered in Brentwood and in Nottingham, the Department of Health and Social Care reveals.

The individuals that tested positive, and all members of their households, are retested and told to self-isolate.

It is announced the PM will host a press conference in Downing Street alongside chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 16:46


Watch: Omicron variant ‘unlikely’ to trigger new wave, says prof

Omicron variant ‘extremely unlikely’ to trigger new pandemic wave in UK, says Andrew Pollard

Sam Hancock27 November 2021 16:31

Read More: Boris Johnson holds Covid press conference – follow live

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