What is the Omicron variant? The Omicron variant has double the number of mutations of the delta variants and is even more contagious. The symptoms for Omicron variant differ from the usual loss in taste and smell, with patients reporting a moderate to severe “pulsing” headache lasting three to five days, which painkillers don’t help according to the zoe tracker app, run by King’s college London scientists.
The Omicron variant is present and rising within the UK, which has led the UK cover alert to be raised to level 4. What is Alert level 4? Essentially a colour coded five tier system to indicate a threat level to the public with Level 5 (red) being the highest. Level 4 means a “Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially”. For context the last time UK was at alert level 4 was February 25th, in which:
- Primary and secondary schools were closed
- Indoor hospitality and non-essential retail, such as hairdressers and clothes shops, were closed
- Entertainment venues, such as cinemas, zoos and theme parks, were closed
- “Stay At Home” order was in-place
- Organised outdoor sport was banned
- Mixing between households was prohibited
- Hugs were banned
Currently none of these restrictions are in place now, but given the risk of infection regarding the omicron variant it seems to be a matter of when these will be imposed again. Such restrictions are unlikely to be welcomed by the public given Christmas is around the corner and the recent controversy about Christmas parties regarding the prime minister.
As of the now, restrictions include anyone arriving in the UK will be asked to take a PCR test, and compulsory face coverings on public transport have been welcomed, however there is a push for stricter restrictions with the government recently implementing the return to work from home guidance from 13/12/2021; Face masks to be worn in most public indoor venues and a mandatory use of the NHS covid pass to enter nightclubs and other large venues. With a rapid rise of Omicron cases, difficult decisions will be made regarding restrictions. Will there be another winter lockdown?