The secretary of state for health and social care warned in an emergency session of the UK Parliament that the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the UK of South African origin is an international concern that could pose a significant risk to public health. Restrictions have not yet been adequately restored. This shows that British politicians have not yet sufficiently understood the danger of the new Covid-19 variant spreading.
The potential threat to Covid-19 new variant
Sajid Javid addressed the House of Commons and said that the WHO had convened a special meeting to discuss the dimensions of this issue. The situation, he said, is changing rapidly, and there is a high degree of uncertainty. The UK Health Secretary explained that the variant, known as B.1.1.529, was first identified by Hong Kong from a person who had travelled from South Africa. The UK, he said, was the first country to identify a potential threat to the new variant and warn international partners.
Increased incidence of the omicron variant
More cases have been identified in South Africa and Botswana and have most likely spread to other countries. The UK Health Secretary warned that the new variant had a large number of abnormal mutations: “And that would suggest that it may well be more transmissible and the current vaccines that we have may well be less effective.” He added that the UK Health Security Agency has considered B.1.1.529 as a new variant under consideration and with a very high priority. Preliminary evidence suggests that this variant may be more transmissible than the delta type and that current vaccines may be less effective. The rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the UK may also affect the effectiveness of treatments used so far.
Exponential growth in the number of patients with the new Covid-19 variant
According to the UK Health Secretary, the new variant, especially in South Africa, has grown exponentially, and the number of cases has quadrupled in the last two weeks. While we do not yet know for sure whether the rapid growth in South Africa is directly related to this new species. He added: “One of the lessons of this pandemic has been that we must move quickly and at the earliest possible moment,”
British measures to curb new species of Covid-19
Accordingly, the UK Health Secretary explained the necessary steps to prevent the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the UK and said that we would put six countries in South Africa on the red travel list. South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Therefore, anyone who is not resident in the UK or Ireland and has been in one of these countries for the past ten days will be barred from entering the UK. In recent days, British officials have announced targeted measures to combat the new type of Covid-19. These restrictions apply from 4 am on November 30 and include the mandatory use of masks in shops and public transport, PCR testing and isolation until a negative result is obtained from abroad, as well as ten days of quarantine for Those who have been in contact with suspected Omicron. Extended laws also require people who have been fully vaccinated to stay home in close touch with someone who has tested positive for Omicron.
£2 billion monthly costs of the new Covid-19 variant
British industry leaders have warned the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng that the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the UK and the emergence of another pandemic could cost the British economy £2 billion a month. The term pandemic, derived from the words “ping” and “pandemic”, refers to being notified or “pinged” by an app that tracks and records close contact with infected people and advises the person to stay for some time.
Impact of Covid-19 outbreak on various economic sectors
The first case of pandemic during the previous wave of coronavirus had a significant negative impact on a wide range of economic sectors, severely affecting supply chains and causing severe labour shortages across the country. The restriction was lifted in August for fully vaccinated citizens. According to economists, the re-imposition of restrictions on Christmas Eve is expected to lead to another catastrophic shortage of goods and labour, as various jobs are paralyzed by an increase in the number of quarantined workers.
The high cost of imposing restrictions on the UK economy
Scientific advisers to the British government say the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the UK may have spread locally, and they are preparing to confirm hundreds of Omicron variants in the coming days. “The new Covid restrictions announced for England are unlikely to derail the UK economy, but it is still worth asking whether they are proportionate. The pandemic in July probably reduced UK GDP by about 0.5 per cent that month. The impact of a repeat could now be greater because the rules are being tightened in school term time and when labour shortages are a bigger problem. This suggests the new self-isolation rules could knock as much as 1 per cent off GDP in December, costing the economy at least £2 billion,” said Julian Jessop, Economics Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Some of these positives may date before the first cases of the Omicron variant found in South Africa but can still be related to travellers returning from the country. At the same time, there is evidence of a local spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.
Identify several cases of the new Covid-19 variant.
In recent days, three cases of Omicron variant have been identified in the UK, all three in people who have travelled to South Africa. At the same time, six Omicron variants were identified in Scotland, and among these, some had no history of travel. The discovery of these new cases raises concerns that the Omicron variant may already be circulating at the community level in the country. Scientists have previously argued that while a flight ban could delay the arrival of the Omicron variant, the rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the UK is inevitable.
The UK prepares for the new wave of Covid-19 outbreak.
The UK government’s scientific advisers are now preparing to identify hundreds of Omicron crowns in the coming days. According to reports from South Africa, the consultants say that the Omicron variant aspect is highly contagious and rapidly spreading. If the spread of this new variant is similar to that of the Delta variant, the number of infections will quickly increase. Of course, these advisers say that the disease may not be severe due to the Omicron variant and may not increase the number of hospitalizations, but it will not be possible to say for sure in a few weeks. Two other European countries, Spain and Sweden, reported the first cases of the Omicron variant, and the new variant reached North America. Canada said the first cases of infection with it. On the other hand, France, which the Minister of Health announced last week that was entering the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, recorded a sharp increase in cases of Covid-19 infections.
The rapid spread of the new Covid-19 variant in the UK came when the country had lifted all restrictions a few months ago. The lifting of regulations led to a fragile situation and an increase in the number of patients. With the spread of the new variant, concerns have increased as businesses and industries suffer significantly from the re-imposition of restrictions. Also, on Christmas Eve, the UK will probably face a severe shortage of goods on store shelves. All this is where Boris Johnson has no plans to improve the situation.