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Bring back ‘work from home’ guidance to tackle Omicron, scientists tell government

·2-min read
Bring back ‘work from home’ guidance to tackle Omicron, scientists tell government

The British government should introduce vaccine passports and tell people to work-from-home in a bid to combat the spread of Omicron, top scientists have warned.

Experts say remote working is a “highly relevant” way to reduce transmission of the new Covid-19 variant, according to notes from the latest Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) meeting on Friday.

Omicron, first detected in South Africa, has sparked alarm among scientists over its contagiousness and potential to evade vaccines.

The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 104.

A Sage meeting was held on Friday, chaired by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance.

Experts warned that Omicron could cause a surge in cases “similar or even larger” than previous waves.

The committee also warned ministers that they may not be able to wait for further data before deciding whether to bring in more restrictions.

“Even if measures are introduced immediately, there may not be time to fully ascertain whether they are sufficient before decisions are needed on further action,” the document states.

“Past Sage advice on measures to reduce transmission remains highly relevant, including but not limited to advice around ventilation, face coverings, hand hygiene, reducing contacts (e.g. by working from home), vaccination certification, and the importance of effective testing, contact tracing and isolation,” it adds.

In a disturbing development, it was revealed this week that more than half of Omicron cases in the UK have occurred in people who have had at least two vaccination doses.

Meanwhile, the UK recorded a further 50,584 deaths and 143 deaths on Friday.

Omicron has so far been found in eight regions of England - the East and West Midlands, the East of England, London, the North East, the North West, the South East and the South West.

Twenty-nine cases have been identified in Scotland, one in Wales and none in Northern Ireland.

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