The new variant of Coronavirus, Omicron, reached the UK, and several cases have been reported in England and Scotland. Although the majority of the British have been vaccinated, Coronavirus restrictions may come back into force.
The UK underwent several lockdowns and restrictions.
Coronavirus reached the UK in early 2020 and has claimed the lives of 144 thousand people so far. The UK had undergone lockdowns and restrictions since March 2020, when the government ordered people to stay at home. In June 2020, authorities reopened schools and non-essential shops. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the relaxing of Coronavirus restrictions on June 23 2020.
In September 2020, PM issued new limits and said the UK was critical in the crisis. At the end of October 2020, PM announced the second national lockdown. After a month, the government ended the lockdown, but some strict restrictions remained in place. In January 2021, England entered the third nationwide lockdown, followed by Scotland and Wales until March. Lifting the limitations continued until July, when all Coronavirus restrictions were lifted.
Back to everyday life by mass vaccination
On July 19 2021, the British government had lifted Coronavirus restrictions and removed the mandatory usage of face masks. When almost 70 per cent of British adults were vaccinated, Johnson cancelled the Coronavirus restrictions across the country. Lockdowns and restrictions have significantly affected the social and personal lives of many people. The significant Coronavirus restrictions included wearing masks in public places and the social distancing rule of one meter. Moreover, individuals could not gather in public places, and only a few people could meet in a private home.
People could no longer gather in public places where they socialize, such as pubs, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, churches. No organization or group had the permission to hold events and festivals because of these Coronavirus restrictions. Scanning of QR codes in gyms and restaurants were also required, but all were eventually removed after the so-called freedom day on July 19.
Mandatory face covering is back.
In recent days, the UK Health Security Agency said it had detected some cases of the Omicron, a Corvid-19 variant. The two first cases were British nationals linked to southern Africa trips. The third person also linked to travel in southern Africa, who visited London and left the country. There were a few more cases on Thursday, both in England and Scotland. Concerned officials in Westminster announced that new measures take effect on November 30 2021, to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant. Once again, face-covering in enclosed public places is compulsory. For international arrivals in the UK, a Negative PCR test is obligatory. The booster vaccination program was extended to 18 years old, and no the gap between the second dose and the booster is reduced to three months.
Ping surveillance and concerns against it
After announcing new measures, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said a mandatory face mask is in place for an enjoyable Christmas. But some Conservative MPs fear new Coronavirus rules are a gateway to Christmas lockdown. They say millions of healthy people will be affected by the isolation rules equal to a return to the pandemic. The term is a combination of two words pandemic and ping. Pandemic refers to notifications by the NHS Covid-19 app on people’s smartphones. When the app pings people, they should isolate themselves for a set time. A registered person who had close contact with someone who tested positive with Covid-19 would get a notification for quarantine. But being pinged was not entirely welcomed, and some people never downloaded the app. Some other people went under pressure for being pinged, which they claim, had disturbed their lives.
Vaccination hopes vanished by Omicron.
With rumours about PM’s Plan B regarding the Coronavirus restrictions, Boris Johnson asked people not to cancel Christmas events on Tuesday. In a press conference, Johnson asked all adults to get the booster jab. Last Christmas, millions of people across Britain were locked at homes because of the strict Coronavirus restrictions. By the widespread vaccination, UK officials hoped vaccination would bring everyday life back in the 2021 winter. Today, almost 8 in 10 of those aged 12 or over have had their second jab. While most British have had two jabs, officials talk about booster shots to save people from Omicron. With less than one month until Christmas, hospitalizations and deaths are lower than earlier waves but high case rates.
Omicron may resist current vaccines.
The main concern for UK scientists is whether the new variant will be more infectious and vaccine-resistant. If Omicron is much more contagious than the Delta variant, it inevitably will spread around the globe. Stéphane Bancel, the chief executive of the US Moderna vaccine company, predicted that current vaccines are less effective against Omicron than the Delta Coronavirus variant. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said if the Omicron variant evades existing immunity, they will produce an updated version of their vaccine within 100 days. Scientists are working to find whether Omicron resists existing vaccines. Some suggest a booster dose of a vaccine may provide more robust protection against the new Covid-19 variant.
Promises over vaccines’ impacts did not come true.
Last year, vaccine makers and government officials claimed the impact of vaccination would be seen significantly over the summer. They claimed life could have been back to normal by winter 2021. There were arguments that vaccination would stop the spread of the virus and new cases would drop. Some vaccine makers boasted that their product could prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting the Coronavirus. So the vaccination has had given hope that an end of the pandemic is near. But today, with new variants, there are debates about booster shots and probable developments of more effective vaccines. Although the majority in the UK were vaccinated, scientists warned that it did not mean stopping usage of face masks soon. News over 90 per cent effectiveness of some vaccines has led many people to believe they could throw away covers.
Once more, a new Covid-19 variant has emerged in some countries. The NHS has detected several cases with the new Omicron variant, but the number can increase. British politicians have many times promised an everyday life every time they introduced new restriction plans. The UK government immediately announced the return of compulsory face masks, which it had cancelled a few months ago. But with the panic of Omicron and with speculations about the lack of current vaccination effectiveness, Brits could expect another restrictions regime. Johnson had promised a typical Christmas while making the same promises in July 2020 when he unveiled his Covid-19 plan. There are fears of going back to the pandemic system by tracing and isolating people.
Throughout the past two years, people in Britain have undergone several lockdowns and strict restrictions. Isolation and loneliness are harmful and could cause misery and death. When people do not go to work and have less money, they become unhealthier.
When sick people with non-Covid diseases are treated with delays, the risk of death grows. No one is talking about previous promises for everyday life by mass vaccinations. There are talks about booster shots while the number of new cases is at a high rate today. Once Westminster hastily withdrew face masks, travel restrictions, social distancing rules, etc. Now some of the rules are back; possibly, people should expect another Christmas with Coronavirus restrictions.