Covid: Booster push to tackle Omicron and new working from home guidance

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday morning. We'll have another update for you this evening.

1. Booster push to tackle Omicron

Extra vaccine sites, more appointments, additional volunteer vaccinators and military help are all part of plans to help achieve the prime minister's target to offer boosters to everyone over 18 in England before the new year. Boris Johnson declared "an emergency in our battle with the new variant Omicron" in a TV statement on Sunday evening, revealing the country faces a "tidal wave" of the strain. Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed on Monday that there are about 10 patients in hospital in England with Omicron - but he said there had not been any deaths with the variant.

Media caption,

Watch Boris Johnson set out the latest plans to tackle Omicron

2. Work-from-home guidance reintroduced

To help stop the spread of Omicron, people should now work from home if they can. The measure's being reintroduced in England from Monday as part of the government's Plan B, which brings the nation in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, the move has left some businesses in city centres fearing they will lose customers as Christmas approaches.

Image source, Getty Images

3. New restrictions likely in Wales

Politicians in Wales say new restrictions are likely "in the next few weeks" to tackle Omicron. It's a "fast-moving form of coronavirus" which could lead to large numbers of people needing treatment from an already under-pressure NHS, says First Minister Mark Drakeford. The Welsh government wants "to act proportionately", says health minister Eluned Morgan, but the Tories are calling for vaccine boosters to be ramped up. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned further measures might be needed in the weeks ahead.

Image source, Getty Images

4. Avoiding 'pandemic roulette'

As India tries to contain the spread of the Omicron variant, laboratories like the National Institute of Virology are working round the clock to identify people who might be infected. It's been receiving about 100 swabs a day - five times more than before the strain emerged. So what's changed since India was criticised over its handling of the Delta variant, which was first detected in the country? We've taken a look.

5. Time for a hologram takeover?

What do you do when you want to be somewhere but you just can't get there and video calls don't cut it? The boss of a Swiss watch brand found a solution - hologram technology. Unable to fly to China due to coronavirus restrictions, Christoph Grainger-Herr was beamed into a world trade event where he could talk to people, and see and hear them in real time. Here's the story.

Image source, Sawyer Cheng

And there's more...

Take a look at the self-isolation rules, which are changing due to the Omicron variant.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Image source, BBC

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