High school students should wear masks in common areas, Department of Education announces as third case of mutant strain of Covid is discovered in UK
- DfE issued guidance as HSA identified third Omicron case in UK
- Schools received an email today saying the masks “should be worn in common areas”
- Students were also asked to make sure to wear masks on public transport when traveling to school.
The Department of Education has asked high school students to wear masks in common areas – as the third UK case of the new Omicron Covid variant has been identified.
The DfE sent an email update to schools and childcare that said: âFace coverings should be worn in common areas in all settings by staff, visitors and caregivers. pupils or students of grade 7 and above, unless exempted.
“Pupils or students (in 7th grade or above) should continue to wear face coverings on public and dedicated school transport, unless exempted.”
The new advice comes a day after Boris Johnson announced new rules for face coverings on public transport and in stores
The update comes after the UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA) said an individual, who has been in the country longer, tested positive for the Omicron variant after traveling to Westminster in London and that the infection was “related to a trip to southern Africa”.
The Omicron variant is believed to be more heritable than the currently dominant Delta variant.
It was first identified in South Africa, but has been found in Hong Kong, Belgium and the Netherlands since the World Health Organization designated it as a “variant of concern”.
The Prime Minister used a press conference on Saturday evening to introduce new restrictions on travel and face mask rules for retail and public transport across the UK.
Anyone entering the UK from abroad must now self-isolate on arrival until they receive a negative PCR test.
The new restrictions will be reviewed in three weeks when more data on the Omicron variant is discovered.
Jenny Harries, UKHSA CEO, said: âOur advanced sequencing capabilities allow us to find variants and take quick action to limit the spread.
The Prime Minister used a televised press conference yesterday to introduce restrictions for the first time in months to delay the spread of the Omicron variant
Students were asked in the email to follow the new guidelines if they use public transport to get to school
“It is very likely that we will find more cases over the next few days, as we are seeing in other countries around the world and as we increase case detection through targeted contact tracing.”
The South African doctor who first sounded the alarm on Omicron today revealed that patients have “unusual” but “mild” symptoms compared to other variants.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, who heads a private practice in the South African administrative capital of Pretoria, said she first noticed earlier this month that Covid patients were exhibiting a host of strange symptoms.
The doctor, who has practiced for more than 30 years and chairs the South African Medical Association, said none of Omicron’s patients suffered from a loss of taste of smell typically associated with Covid, but instead presented unusual markers such as severe fatigue and a high heart rate.
“Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before,” Dr Coetzee told The Telegraph.
It comes after 37,681 more Covid cases and 51 deaths were recorded in the UK today.
The number of infections released by health ministry officials today is down 5.8% from the 40,004 recorded last Sunday, while the number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid is down 16.4% from 61 last week.
The number of cases has been steadily hovering around 30,000 to 50,000 new cases per day in the UK since the summer, with a relatively low daily death toll compared to previous waves of the pandemic.