Javid set to make statement as Omicron spreads and booster announcement expected

29 November 2021, 08:56 | Updated: 4 January 2022, 12:37

The Health Secretary is due to address the House of Commons as the Government steps up measures to tackle a new strain of Covid-19
The Health Secretary is due to address the House of Commons as the Government steps up measures to tackle a new strain of Covid-19. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The Health Secretary Sajid Javid is addressing MPs today amid growing fears about the Omicron variant.

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Here is what he is expected to say.

What is the Health Secretary going to say?

Sajid Javid is due to make a speech on the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The strain was first identified in South Africa but has been found around the world in the five days since its discovery on Wednesday.

There are three confirmed cases in England and six in Scotland, with that number expected to rise in the coming days.

It prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce a range of new restrictions over the weekend, which Mr Javid will likely detail during his speech before they come into force on Tuesday morning.

Read more: Booster jabs for every adult to fight Omicron and save Christmas

Read more: Covid-19: Six cases of Omicron variant found in Scotland

The mask mandate has been brought back in shops and public transport, and teachers and pupils in year seven and above are now being "strongly advised" to wear them in non-classroom communal areas of schools.

Isolation guidance has also been tightened, with close contacts of Omicron cases being ordered to quarantine for 10 days even if they are fully-vaccinated.

International arrivals to England will also need to isolate until they receive a negative PCR test, which they must take by the second day after their arrival.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are also considering whether to recommend a reduction in the window between the second and third doses of the vaccine, as well as an extension of the rollout to under-40s.

A decision is expected within days, possibly as soon as Monday.

Why is Sajid Javid speaking?

Mr Javid needs to address MPs because the law that allows the Government to enforce mask-wearing has expired, and as a result there is a parliamentary process that needs to be adhered to.

Health Minister Ed Agar told LBC's Nick Ferrari about the process needed, saying: "This is something that will be done by a parliamentary process called statutory instrument.

"That allows the secretary of state to make that law and then within 28 days it needs to be debated and voted on in parliament, and that's a standard parliamentary process."

When Nick asked if that was taking place today, Mr Argar said: "My understanding is he will approve that, or sign that, today, and then in the coming weeks there will be the opportunity to debate and vote on that."

Read more: Omicron: Symptoms, cases, and what we know so far

Read more: Wear face masks in school communal areas, pupils in year seven and above told

When will Sajid Javid make his speech?

The Health Secretary is expected to speak around 3.30pm, after an emergency meeting of the G7 health ministers.