The UK authorities have raised the alert status to level 4 due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, a level unprecedented since May last year.
Medical officials from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reported recommending raising the alert level from 3 to 4 after seeing a rapid increase in infections with the new variant.
Level 5 is the risk of collapse of health services, while level 4 reflects a “high risk of contagion”. Level 3 stands for “viruses in general circulation” and level 2 for low numbers of cases and infections. Level 1 indicates that the virus is no longer there.
The joint statement by the authorities of the four nations shows that the Omicron variant is spreading much faster than the Delta variant and that the protection of vaccines against the symptomatic disease has been reduced.
“Severity data will be clearer in a few weeks, but omicron hospital admissions are already a reality and are expected to increase rapidly,” they stated. They also urged the population to get vaccinated, get the booster dose, keep rooms ventilated, wear a mask, take frequent tests and isolate themselves as soon as symptoms appear.
In addition, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to address the nation in a televised address this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. that does not announce any new restrictions, according to BBC sources.
In England, over 30s can apply for the booster starting this Monday and in Scotland, 18 to 29 year olds can apply for the whole week. Wales, England and Scotland expect the booster vaccination to be given to the entire adult population by the end of January. Northern Ireland is now offering the booster dose for those over 30 years of age.