Staffordshire residents face £ 200 fine if they do not wear masks as Omicron threat increases
Staffordshire residents are urged to follow the new mask wearing rules and get their booster shots to help prevent a wave of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Regulations requiring the wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport have been reinstated in England as of today (30 November), in response to the threat posed by the latest ‘worrying variant’ – with 200 £ fine for offenders.
The Omicron variant, which was first identified in South Africa last week, is distinguished by its large number of mutations, which could make it more transmissible.
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There have now been 11 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, including an infection in Nottingham, although experts believe that number will rise in the coming days.
In addition to the mask rule, the government has announced that the booster vaccine program will be accelerated, with a third vaccine offered to everyone over 18, and the gap between the second and the booster being reduced from six to three. month. Children aged 12 to 15 will also be offered a second dose three months after the first.
Although no case of Omicron has yet been recorded in Staffordshire, Dr Richard Harling, director of health and care for Staffordshire County Council, says residents must do everything possible to prevent the spread of the virus .
Dr Harling said: ‘We have had the first cases of the new Omicron variant confirmed in the UK, and I have no doubt there will be more in the coming days. Although we have no confirmed cases of this variant in Staffordshire, we still need to do everything possible to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
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“The emergence of this new variant shows how important it is for everyone to do their part to reduce the spread of the virus. In addition to following the new rules issued by the government, it is now more important than ever to be vaccinated with its 1st and 2nd dose and its booster.
“People should also test themselves when they are in high-risk situations, such as visiting an elderly relative or entering a crowded public space. By following these simple steps, we can minimize the spread of Covid-19 and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. “
Other measures introduced in response to Omicron include:
- All contacts of suspected Omicron cases will need to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status
- Anyone entering the UK will need to undergo a PCR test two days after arrival and will need to self-isolate until they have a negative test result
- Secondary schools are “strongly advised” to introduce the wearing of face coverings in common areas by staff and students
Health Secretary Sajid Javid briefed MPs on measures taken to tackle Omicron on Monday.
He said: “Our vaccines remain our best line of defense against this virus, no matter what form it attacks us. We don’t know much about how our vaccine responds to this new variant.
“But while it is possible that they are less effective, it is highly unlikely that they will have any effectiveness against serious diseases.
“So it’s very important that we get as many hits in the arms as possible.”
Mr Javid also said the new restrictions would not be in place “a day longer than necessary” if it turned out that Omicron was no more dangerous than Delta.
Stoke-on-Trent currently has a seven-day infection rate of 456.7 cases per 100,000 people – slightly higher than the UK rate of 439.5 and 3.4% higher than the week before. The rate in Newcastle is 424.3. while in the Staffordshire Moorlands it is 471.4.
The latest figures from North Midlands University Hospitals show that as of November 23 there were 73 Covid-positive patients occupying beds, including 10 in mechanical ventilation beds.