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RPS calls on Government to step up Covid precaution measures


By Isabel Shaw
Reporter

29 Nov 2021

The Government must implement more public health measures to protect people against the new Covid-19 strain, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.  

The new Covid variant, named Omicron, was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on Wednesday (24 November). Since then, nine cases have been reported in the UK. 

Early evidence suggests Omicron has a higher reinfection risk than previous variants. 

In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced face coverings will be mandatory in shops and on public transport in England from Tuesday (30 November). 

Masks have remained compulsory in healthcare settings in England, including pharmacies, throughout the pandemic. However, mandatory mask-wearing elsewhere was dropped on 19 July.  

Robbie Turner, RPS director of pharmacy, has also called on the Government to reintroduce the ‘hands, face, space and ventilation’ protection measures.

On Friday (26 November) Mr Turner said: ‘Whilst it’s too early to draw clear conclusions about the transmissibility or resistance of the new variant to current vaccines, one of the lessons from the pandemic is that we should act quickly to protect public health’.

‘Each one of us must take the necessary precautions of wearing a mask in higher-risk situations, maintaining social distancing wherever possible, ensuring there’s appropriate ventilation indoors when meeting others and washing our hands regularly.’  

He also pointed out that it was ‘never too late to get vaccinated’ and urged all those who are eligible to come forward. 

The JCVI is expected to announce its decision later today (29 November) on whether to rapidly extend boosters to younger age groups, as well as reduce the gap between the second dose and booster. 

Other new protection measures against the variant include:  

  • All international arrivals must take a a day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result
  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status — they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace

The Government has also placed 10 countries on the red list  – South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. This means only British or Irish nationals or those with UK residence rights will be permitted entry if travelling to the UK from those nations. 

It comes after Welsh pharmacies have been commissioned to deliver the Covid booster vaccines.  


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