Too late to stop the spread of Omicron in UK, senior scientist says – .

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Too late to stop the spread of Omicron in UK, senior scientist says – .


It is “too late” to effectively stop the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK, a government science adviser has warned.

On Saturday it was announced that all travelers arriving in England will be required to take a Covid pre-departure test from Tuesday – while Nigeria is added to the government’s travel red list.

Ministers said the additional test was intended to be a temporary measure following new data showing an increase in the number of cases of the new strain linked to overseas travel.
But Professor Mark Woolhouse, who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modeling (Spi-M) which advises the government, said the measures would not make a “material difference” because the variant “is already spreading fairly quickly”.
He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “I think it may be a case of the stable door being closed after the horse has bolted.
“If Omicron is here in the UK, and it certainly is, if there is community transmission in the UK, and it certainly looks like this, then it’s that community transmission that will drive a next wave. .
“The cases that are imported are important, we want to detect them and isolate any positive cases that we find, as we would any case anywhere.
“But I think it’s too late to make a significant difference in the course of the Omicron wave if we’re going to have one. “
The travel industry reacted with fury after the announcement of the latest measures, despite ministers insisting they were only “temporary”.
Dominic Raab told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday, “I know it’s a burden on the travel industry, but we’ve made huge strides in this country.
“We need to take the targeted forensic action to stop the seeding of new variants in this country to create a bigger problem.
“We have taken a balanced approach, but we are always mindful of the additional risks that take us back and not forward. “
Woolhouse said that although the number of people with the Omicron variant is “still quite low” and probably remains in the hundreds, they “are growing quite quickly.”
However, he insisted that the vaccinations will always be “very, very good” to protect against the new variant.
Statistician David Spiegelhalter told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “It’s a very difficult situation because we don’t yet have a lot of data at all, almost nothing from this country on risks.
“In South Africa, data is being published showing pretty strong evidence of the increased risk of transmission and evidence that people are going to hospitals, but it may actually be lighter, but we don’t have enough of it yet. data to be able to tell.
“It doesn’t sound like a big deal if you get it, I think that’s about all we can say at the moment. “
When asked if Omicron’s measures to control the spread of Omicron had gone far enough, Spiegelhalter added, “Better to be careful, when there is so much we don’t know… and when we don’t. not know, it is better to be safe than sorry. “



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