OMICRON restrictions will be needed for two months, a top health boss warned this morning.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief of the UK Health Security Agency, told MPs today Plan B rules should continue well into the new year.
It came as she explained to the Health and Science Committee why boosters are the nation's hope against the tidal wave of Omicron, and why the variant has caused such a concern.
When asked how long she thought the rules being debated and voted on by minister's this afternoon would be in place, she said: "We would need some level of restrictions in place for the next four to eight weeks."
Since Friday, the rules on where people have to wear masks have been extended to cover most public venues including theatres and cinemas.
Brits have been asked to start working from home again to help stop the spread of Omicron – with yesterday seeing a record number of jabs in arms.
Large venues are now required to introduce vaccine passports as a condition of entry under the new measures – or accept proof of a negative test.
And from today the government has axed the 10-day isolation period for anyone exposed to someone with Omicon and brought in a new seven-day testing regime.
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Brits have been urged to come forward and get their booster jabs as soon as possible to protect everyone from picking up the new variant.
It comes after warnings to Cabinet ministers hospitals could be so overwhelmed with Omicron by the middle of January some could be forced to SHUT.
Ministers were given a bombshell warning this morning that so many of Britain's army of NHS doctors and nurses will be off sick by around January 15, The Sun understands.
The PM and Government medics told virtual cabinet this morning that even on “the most conservative” estimates things are looking “very bad” when it comes to cases.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the growth of Omicron cases in the UK is "now mirroring the rapid increase we're seeing in South Africa", telling MPs: "The current observed doubling time is around every two days.
"Although yesterday we reported there were 4,713 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, the UKHSA estimates that the number of daily infections was 42 times higher, at 200,000.
"Scientists have never seen a Covid-19 variant that's capable of spreading so rapidly so we have to look at what we can do to slow Omicron's advance."
And an expert also warned ministers there is a very real risk of getting a "duel infection" from both Omicron and Delta.
Dr Paul Burton, chief medical officer for Moderna, said: "In the near future these two viruses are going to coexists."
He added: "Omicron is going to infect people with a very strong background of Delta.
"I think Omicron poses a real threat – the doubling time at three days is far faster than we've seen.
"People can harbor both viruses, and that could be possible here. it certainly could be [much worse].
"It give an opportunity for the two viruses could share genes and swap genes over."
It's not clear if this would make any infection worse but could certainly cause potential opportunities for each variant to develop further, Dr Burton warned.
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