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Boris Johnson announced yesterday that anyone entering the UK will have to do a PCR test. Image by Hollie Adams

Rodney Edwards

Northern Ireland will introduce new PCR testing and self-isolation requirements for newcomers following the appearance of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 yesterday in England.

Anyone who arrives in the area will be asked to do a PCR test for Covid-19 on day two and will have to self-isolate until it gives a negative result after the new “affected” strain is discovered in Nottingham and Essex. </ In a statement last night, Northern Ireland Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Michael McBride confirmed the Department of Health's intention to coordinate Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK on PCR testing and self-isolation requirements for newcomers.

“Though very it is likely that there will be cases of the variant at some point in Northern Ireland, it is important that preventive measures are taken to delay and / or occur he said.

Mr McBride described the new variant as a “serious and worrying development” and spent much of the weekend discussing it with his counterparts in the UK and the Republic.

The Northern Ireland Health Secretary Robin Swann is said to be in constant touch with his counterpart in the Republic, Stephen Donnelly, about the ever-changing picture.

Mr. Swann has also briefed Stormont ministers on his ministry’s actions to address the impact of Omicron “Reduce and delay” should it get here, including adding more countries to the red list in line with the UK and promoting the vaccination program.

Malawi and Mozambique were added to the NI Red List on November 26th , while Angola and Zambia will be recorded from 4 a.m. today. Already on the list are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Stormont health authorities are believed to be concerned about three main areas when the new variant is problematic: the vaccine’s efficacy, the clinical impact on the already under pressure hospitals in the region and its portability.

Almost three million vaccinations were given to the public in the form of first, second and sometimes third or booster vaccinations. More than 100,000 people were tested for the disease in the past week.

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However, Northern Ireland still has the highest infection rate in the UK or Ireland and the lowest vaccination rate, although the number of people hospitalized with the virus is slowly declining.

Mid Ulster; Middle and East Antrim; Antrim and Newtownabbey; and Causeway Coast and Glens had remarkably high infection rates of over 700 cases per 100,000 population.

There was some optimism yesterday when a scientist behind the Oxford Vaccination positively said that the existing vaccines against Omicron will and will be effective it is “extremely unlikely” that this will lead to a “restart” of the pandemic – an opinion shared by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. will be repeated.

Professor Andrew Pollard, who helped develop the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, said experts would have to wait “several weeks” for confirmation but said existing vaccinations may still be effective in order to presenting serious illnesses.

More than 60 people who came to the Netherlands on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for Covid. The Dutch authorities are trying to determine whether the passengers have the new variant.

The World Health Organization has said that the variant was discovered faster than previous attacks.

In the republic, scientists have started collecting data from samples from the beginning Analyze markers of the new variant at their facility in Backweston on November 11th.

Yesterday, Cillian De Gascún, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said he hoped to have preliminary data tomorrow on whether the new variant was detected in Ireland.

Dr. De Gascún said he was concerned about the new variant but it was too early to say how widespread it could get. He said there was not yet any evidence that vaccines would bypass or cause more serious illness.

Mr Martin said the new restrictions linked to the booster campaign would ensure “the intergenerational engagement that happens around Christmas time is less dangerous for those in need of protection ”.

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon, however, said he expects “robust plans” from the government to protect access to schooling, educational support and social interaction.

“We are approaching calendar year three of this pandemic, and challenging times are still ahead “, He said.

In the meantime, the new Covid certification system here in Northern Ireland will not be mandatory in unlicensed premises” at this time, “the Department of Health said.

According to the policy that will be released tomorrow in In the form of a draft, people who want access to certain locations must provide evidence of a Covid-19 vaccination, a negative result of the lateral flow test or evidence of infection in the last six months.

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