5 January - update on Plan B and the Omicron variant
The Prime Minister yesterday (5 January), gave a statement to Parliament on the Omicron variant and the measures the government is taking to contain the virus.
Mr Johnson confirmed that the government will stick with Plan B for another three weeks, with a further review before the regulations expire on 26 January.
The Government will progress with setting up local Nightingale hospitals to create extra capacity if required. These Nightingale hospitals will be located on the grounds of existing hospitals, rather than as standalone facilities as before (e.g., Excel centre) to facilitate staffing and servicing.
Critical workers testing measures
To help keep essential services and supply chains running, critical workers in England will be provided with lateral flow tests so that they can self-test on every working day. Those classed as critical workers are those who work in essential services, cannot work from home and are at risk of infecting each other – for example, due to working together in an enclosed space. Roll out will start from 10 January.
Change in requirements for confirmatory PCR tests
From 11 January, the need to do a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test will be removed in England.
Under the new rules, people without symptoms can start their isolation from the day of their positive lateral flow test and will not need a follow-up PCR test to confirm. The aim is to prevent prolonged isolation for workers who may have been waiting for a confirmatory PCR test.
There are some exemptions from the move.
- People eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment will still need to take a PCR so they can access financial support.
- People participating in research or surveillance programmes may still be asked to take a follow-up PCR.
- Around one million people who are most at risk and potentially eligible for new treatments will receive a PCR test kit at homeby mid-january to use if they develop symptoms ot get a positive lateral flow test.
Pre-departure testing scrapped for travel to England
From 4am on 7 January, the government is scrapping the pre-departure test for people travelling to England. The requirement to self-isolate on arrival until receipt of a negative PCR test is also being removed. Instead, those arriving in England will need to take a LFD test within two days of arrival, and, if positive, they must take a further PCR test to help the government identify any new variants at the border.
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