Health Minister Gillian Keegan defends UK response to Omicron variant

Health Minister Gillian Keegan defends UK response to Omicron variant
Health Minister Gillian Keegan defends UK response to Omicron variant

Health Minister Gillian Keegan today insisted it is better for the UK to 'overreact than underreact' to the new Omicron coronavirus variant after Joe Biden told the US the mutant strain is 'not a cause for panic'. 

The Government's new rules on face masks and self-isolation to slow the spread of the variant came into effect in England from 4am this morning. 

Ms Keegan said ministers are trying to strike the right 'balance' in the response but she admitted it is a difficult judgment to make because there are many 'unknowns' associated with the variant. 

Meanwhile, Ms Keegan insisted 'Christmas is on track' amid fears the Omicron variant could result in more people having to self-isolate over the festive period. 

Health Minister Gillian Keegan today insisted it is better for the UK to 'overreact than underreact' to the new Omicron coronavirus varian

Health Minister Gillian Keegan today insisted it is better for the UK to 'overreact than underreact' to the new Omicron coronavirus varian

US President Joe Biden said last night that the variant is 'a cause for concern, not a cause for panic'

US President Joe Biden said last night that the variant is 'a cause for concern, not a cause for panic'

Mr Biden, the US President, said last night that 'this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic'. 

His comments have prompted scrutiny of the UK's response which has seen ministers roll out three main curbs to buy scientists some time as they race to analyse the new variant and assess how effective existing vaccines will be against it.

Face masks are once again compulsory in shops and on public transport while all travellers returning to the UK must now take a PCR test on or before day two after their arrival. They can leave isolation once they have a negative test result.  

All close contacts of Omicron cases must isolate at home for ten days regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not, prompting fears of another 'pingdemic'. 

The number of Omicron cases identified in the UK has now hit 14 after Scotland announced three more this morning, bringing its total to nine, while England has discovered

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