Omicron Variant Confirmed In Jersey

Jersey's first cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 have been confirmed.

The government says that 'fewer than five' people have tested positive for the new strain.

An exact number hasn't been given 'to protect confidentiality'.

A spokesperson says those with Omicron 'remain well' and 'continue to follow public health guidance and are in isolation'.

It was announced yesterday (15 December) that masks would become mandatory and working from home would be encouraged from Tuesday 4 January because of Omicron concerns.

Dr. Ivan Muscat says they expect to see cases of this strain grow in Jersey quickly, as it has in the UK and other countries.

"We are trying to stem its growth and have increased response to Omicron, compared with Delta, in order to try to limit the rate of growth which will give us more time to roll out our augmented booster vaccine programme."

Cases of Omicron in England are doubling every two to three days.

All adults can now also book their booster.

Dr. Muscat is urging all those eligible to get it booked as soon as possible.

"The current vaccine is effective against Omicron, but to a lesser extent and only really if you have the booster on board.

The vaccine efficacy against symptomatic infection is now quoted as being between 70% and 75% if you have had the booster. If you have not had the booster, it is in the order of 33%.

Dr Ivan Muscat, Jersey's Deputy Medical Officer of Health

Please get your booster if you haven't already and if you're eligible for it because it offers the best protection we currently have against Omicron."

There are seven confirmed cases of Omicron in Guernsey.

Anyone who tests positive for Omicron in Jersey, or is a direct contact of an Omicron case, has to isolate for ten days and cannot go outside for their two hours of exercise.

An Omicron case is contact traced for ten days prior to receiving their positive result to identify as many contacts as possible, so they are tested and isolated.

Rachel Williams, who directs Jersey's Testing and Trace programme, says its crucial that people get tested when they need to.

"It's really important that all direct contacts go for their direct contact PCR, don't just rely on LFTs (lateral flow tests), go for your PCR when you're told that you're a direct contact.

Then take your daily LFTs for the period that you're a direct contact.

It's also really important that if anyone experiences symptoms at any time, whether they're a direct contact or not, that they go online and book themselves a symptomatic PCR or phone the helpline to book a symptomatic PCR.

We are hearing that quite a few people are experiencing symptoms and relying on LFTs."

A woman in her 80s has been confirmed to have died after contracting coronavirus.

She was being treated in the General Hospital at the time.

85 people are now known to have died in Jersey after testing positive for Covid-19.

Nine others are still being treated in hospital, out of 1,161 known active cases in the island.

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