UK Covid live: Ministers ‘take a close look at the data’ before deciding on circuit breaker for England, Minister says | Politics

What new measures are planned in England?

The Prime Minister is considering three options to curb the spread of Omicron. The least restrictive would be to ask the public to limit social diversity, without legal application. This would bring England into line with the measures in place in Scotland, where people have been advised to reduce their socialization and limit gatherings to three households.

A step forward would be mandatory restrictions on household mixing, the return of social distancing and forcing pubs and restaurants to close at 8 p.m. The third option is a return to full lockdown, or something like that, with a two week “breaker” that would be on the cards. Boris Johnson said on Friday he was not “shutting things down” but mounting pressure on the NHS could prompt rethinking.

Given Omicron’s transmissibility, would a social distance of 2 meters make a difference?

Although Omicron appears to be more transmissible than previous variants, the basic mechanisms of transmission likely remain the same – the virus is emitted in aerosols and droplets from breathing, speaking, singing, coughing, and sneezing.

Cath Noakes, member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) and professor of environmental engineering for buildings at the University of Leeds, said: “We don’t yet know if people with Omicron are emitting more viruses. or if the balance of transmission close to air at a longer distance has changed. But regardless, the concentration of aerosols and droplets is always greater at a closer distance and, therefore, physical distance remains an important measure.

“However, we know from experience throughout the pandemic – not just Omicron – that in many environments, a distance of 2 meters alone is not enough, and people can be infected when sharing a room. poorly ventilated with each other. “

Another advantage of the 2-meter distance is that it limits the number of people in indoor spaces, reducing the chances that an infectious person is present – and the number of people to whom they could transmit the virus. For the same reason, the return of social distancing would be very bad news for hotel companies.

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