COVID-19: Omicron variant could reduce the gap between infection & infectiousness

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The Omicron variant of COVID-19 may shorten the window between infection and infectiousness compared to other strains, new analysis by British scientists suggests.

The “reduced incubation period” of Omicron, identified by the UK Health and Security Agency, informed the government’s decision on Saturday to introduce pre-departure coronavirus tests for all international arrivals to the UK, according to the Department for Health.

It follows Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirming that 26 additional confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had been reported across the UK, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 160.

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Tests will be required before flying to UK

“A new analysis by the UK Health and Security Agency has shown that the Omicron variant’s incubation period may be shorter. This increases the effectiveness of pre-departure testing, as it is more likely for positive cases to be identified before travel.” said the department.

“Given the reduced incubation period of the Omicron variant, passengers are advised to take the pre-departure test as close as possible to their scheduled departure to the UK and no earlier than 48 hours before travelling,” it added.

Meanwhile, the NHS has said more than one million people have booked an appointment for a booster jab this week after the public were urged to have the shot following the emergence of the new variant.

More than 16.2 million third jabs have been delivered in England since the NHS began rolling out the booster programme in September.

The booster jab was initially only offered to over-50s, people in care homes, frontline health and social care workers and vulnerable people between 16 and 49. However, the government announced Monday that all adults would receive a booster vaccine. This was in response to a wide-ranging expansion of the jabs program.

The speeding up of third jabs in England will happen no later than 13 December, NHS bosses have said.

The online booking system for booster jabs will be updated to allow people to book their booster shots three months rather than six months after the second dose.

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