Millions more could be eligible for booster vaccine as more Omicron coronavirus cases confirmed in the UK

Millions of more people could be told they are eligible for a coronavirus booster vaccine on Monday, as Ministers and scientists continue to look at measures to tackle the new Omicron variant.

The number of confirmed cases in the UK has risen to nine, as six people in Scotland have been identified as infected with the new variant, Holyrood officials said this morning.

A decision on whether to offer a third jab to 18 - 39 year olds is expected to come from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation as early as today.

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The news comes as masks will be made mandatory in shops and on public transport, and all arrivals to the UK made to take a PCR test as cases of the new variant continue to be identified around the world.

People wearing masks traveling on the London Underground.People wearing masks traveling on the London Underground.
People wearing masks traveling on the London Underground.

Close contacts of positive Omicron cases are also being ordered to isolate for 10 days even if they have been vaccinated under emergency measures announced on Saturday.

Despite the reintroduction in rules, a Health Minister has said he is not anticipating restrictions being reintroduced ahead of Christmas.

Edward Argar told Sky News he is “looking forward to a Christmas spent with family and friends”, and that the rules which are coming back are a “proportionate” and “measured” response.

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid has similarly told families they should plan for a “great” Christmas “as normal” and insisted it was “nowhere near” time to reintroduce social distancing rules and work-from-home guidance.

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The first two Omicron infections were identified in Nottingham and Essex, where officials were ordering PCR tests for customers of a KFC in Brentwood as far back as November 19.

A third case was detected in England on Sunday, in a person with travel links to southern Africa who visited Westminster before leaving the country. It was thought the individual visited the wider borough and not Parliament.

Extra testing measures are being introduced around Brentwood after a link was found with the Omicron case.

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Essex County Council said “necessary precautionary action” – including switching to remote learning for one class – has been taken at Larchwood Primary School in Pilgrims Hatch to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A number of other sites in the area are also being targeted for testing, including a faith setting, public health officials said.