All travellers who wish to visit Great Britain must take a Covid test before departure. The stricter rules will enter into force on Tuesday at 05: 00 Dutch time, the British health minister Sajid Javid announced on Saturday. Since then, Nigeria has been on the Red List. This means that flights from that country will be banned and British travellers will have to be quarantined when they return to hotels.
According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, travel restrictions are needed to delay the spread of the Omikron variant of the coronavirus. ‘We’ve been looking at the data from the past week or so since we heard about Omikron and we’re seeing an increasing number of travel-related infections,’ Javid says. Reason for the government to introduce the new travel restrictions, the minister says.
This means that all incoming passengers must take a coronation test no more than 48 hours before departure. According to Javid, the number of Omikron infections in the country has now risen to about 160. South Africa and nine other South African countries are already on the British Red List. This means that British travellers returning from one of those countries must be quarantined.
In the UK, nearly 20 million people have already received a Coronavirus booster. To increase the pace of the vaccination programme, the government deploys around four hundred soldiers. Of the population aged 12 and over, 80.8 percent have been fully vaccinated and 34.4 percent have had a booster. The UK started offering the extra shot to maintain protection against coronavirus in mid-september. In Germany 13 million people have had a booster shot, in France 10 million and in Belgium 1.9 million. The Netherlands is expected to have administered 700,000 booster vaccinations by the end of this week.
Precursors of the new Omikron variant have probably been present for months, says Wolfgang Preiser, researcher at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town and researcher at the consortium that discovered the variant. ‘As far as we know, an early form of Omikron evolved as a separate virus type before Alpha and Delta appeared.’
This type of virus then evolved for months without being noticed. ‘The question is: why was Omikron able to stay hidden for so long and only now come on Steam? Were there any other mutations or mutations that allowed it to spread so quickly?”says Preiser.
The Omikron variant was discovered in South Africa and Botswana and has a large number of mutations. The WHO has described it as a worrying variant.