Booster take-up will make a 'big difference' in Omicron battle, say experts

Coronavirus vaccine

People are being urged to get their booster jabs with five confirmed cases of the Omicron Covid variant in Norfolk and a further 12 suspected cases. - Credit: Denise Bradley

With five confirmed cases of the Omicron Covid variant now detected in Norfolk and a further 12 suspected cases, people are being strongly urged to get their booster jabs.

As of December 6, there were two cases in North Norfolk, one in Great Yarmouth, one case in Norwich and one in South Norfolk.

However testing is currently ongoing in Norfolk to determine whether a dozen suspected cases are the new variant.

And with analysis of UK Omicron and Delta cases showing a third booster prevents about 75pc of people getting any Covid symptoms are prompting fresh calls to go and get them.

University of East Anglia virus expert, Paul Hunter, said: "What we know for certain is the thing that's going to make the big difference is booster vaccinations - that is going to make a difference."

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. Photo: Bill Smith

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. - Credit: Archant 2013

Professor Hunter said that although the current number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant were quite small, he was sure there would be a "fairly substantial increase" in the coming days.

He said there would likely be "considerable increases" in case numbers over the next three weeks, but insisted that by having the Covid booster "we should be able to overcome some of the worst pressure on the health service".

It comes as new rules state daily testing for anyone double-jabbed and has been in contact with a Covid-19 case will start from Tuesday

Prof Hunter reiterated: "People having their boosters, that's the thing that will make the difference."

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As of Saturday, there have been 1,898 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the UK.

Broadland is the county's only local authority with no cases or suspected cases of the new variant.

Dr Berwyn Clarke, chairman of Norwich Research Park-based Iceni Diagnostics, which is behind rapid response tests which can show if somebody has Covid-19 within 15 minutes, said: "These things are changing all the time.

"It’s crucial that people get vaccinated and get their booster as well."

The county's first case was announced on November 29.

The north Norfolk case was one of eight new cases announced in England that day.

On December 8, Boris Johnson announced new Plan B rules in hopes of slowing the spread of the new variant.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covi

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). - Credit: PA

The new rules included working from home where possible and the reintroduction of masks in indoor venues.