CAROLINE ANSELL MP: New Covid variant is here in the UK

The new Omicron Covid strain has dominated the headlines this week and I welcome the Government taking swift action to try and delay the spread of the new variant.

Experts are now studying this mutation of the virus and, crucially, if it will affect the effectiveness of our vaccines.

The good news is the vaccines we have can be tweaked, if necessary, in around 100 days if the worst-case scenario rears its head.

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However, most experts believe the new variant will not evade the vaccines and this is why the Government has expanded and speeded up the booster vaccine rollout. All adults should have been offered the jab by the end of January and I urge everyone to step forward when they are called. This is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and community.

Please also get the flu jab too as deaths from this virus are starting to rise.

In the meantime, the Government has sensibly reintroduced face mask wearing in shops in shops and shopping centres, in transport hubs and on public transport. It has also reintroduced self-isolation rules for those with the Omicron variant and foreign travel restrictions too.

Ministers are also advising you should still continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.

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Omicron is in the UK and it is likely to continue to spread but these restrictions will buy us time to find out if it is serious.

This is a worry but I would like to echo what the Prime Minister has said this week. The situation we find ourselves in right now is much better than this time last year. This is in large part to the excellent vaccine rollout. I would like to thank all those who will now be getting back into administering jabs. The NHS staff and volunteers here in Eastbourne and across the country continue to do us proud.

With sensible measures we can continue to step out. Small Business Saturday this week is a great opportunity to support our local businesses. They are the backbone of our local economy and give our town its character and colour.

I’ll be criss-crossing the constituency to speak with shoppers and shop owners and pausing awhile to holding an advice surgery. I’ll have not one but two opportunities to chat to Santa over the course of the day too!

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Nativity preparations were in full swing when I was at Parkland School this last week and songs filled the air.

I met the School Council and was impressed with the very thoughtful, searching questions the children posed – unsurprisingly, the virus and lockdown featured but the lead question was on the environment. I went on to cite the children of Parkland School in Parliament when I led a debate on introducing a new qualification in Natural History on Wednesday. I can’t imagine many schools have pet llamas!

Please do keep in touch on any concern and I hope to see you at one of the lovely community events going on this weekend.