PCR tests to be required for all international arrivals to the UK 8 months ago

PCR tests to be required for all international arrivals to the UK

The UK has announced a number of new measures to "slow down the seeding" of the Omicron variant.

Anyone who enters the United Kingdom will be required to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

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All international arrivals will also have to self-isolate until they have a negative result, as part of the UK Government's plans to slow down the spread of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant that was detected in the UK on Saturday.

Johnson announced a raft of changes at a Downing Street press conference but said the Government is taking a precautionary approach because "there are many things" it does not know yet about the variant at this early stage.

"We now need to go further and implement a proportionate testing regime for arrivals from across the whole world," he said.

"We are not going to stop people travelling, I want to stress that, we’re not going to stop people travelling, but we will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival, and to self-isolate until they have a negative result."

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Amongst the other changes announced is the need for all contacts of those who test positive with a suspected case of the new Omicron variant to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status.

Also, face coverings will become compulsory on public transport and in shops.

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Johnson said the government wanted to "slow down the seeding" of the variant into the UK to "buy time" for its scientists to learn more about the variant, to vaccinate more of the population and to ensure the NHS is prepared.

As well as the measures announced, Johnson said Health Secretary Sajid Javid would ask the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to consider giving boosters to as wide a group as possible and to reduce the gap between the second dose and the booster vaccine.

Earlier on Saturday, Javid confirmed that two individuals who tested positive for the Omicron variant were now self-isolating and that there would be targeted testing in Nottingham and Chelmsford where the cases were discovered.

He said the cases are linked and connected to travel in southern Africa.

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"This is a fast-moving situation and we are taking decisive steps to protect public health," Javid wrote on Twitter.

He also announced that Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia would be added to the UK's travel red list, effective from 4am on Sunday.

"If anyone has travelled to these four countries or any of the other red-listed countries in the last four days then they must self-isolate and take PCR tests," Javid said.

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On Friday, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesostho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe were added to the travel red list after the discovery of Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the Omicron strain contains a large number of mutations.

"The concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves," Infectious Disease Epidemiologist for the WHO Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said.

"Right now, researchers are getting together to understand where these mutations are and what that potentially may mean for our diagnostics, our therapeutics and our vaccines."