Could schools close early in Newcastle this Christmas and who should wear a mask? The latest on the impact of Omicron variant as Covid-19 concerns rise

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New restrictions are being introduced from today, and the public have raised questions about further restrictions and schools potentially closing sooner than expected.

The sharp rise in cases of the new variant Omicron in the UK has now resulted in calls for the UK Government to once again close schools early for Christmas.

The new variant was first detected in Botswana but has already made it’s way to the UK with two cases being announced over the weekend.

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The numbers of the variant cases are rising with new cases being identified everyday.

The arrival of the new variant has lead to COVID-19 measures being put back into place.

The government announced over the weekend that masks were to be worn again on public transport and shops across England. However, more calls have been made for stronger measures to fight the spread of the virus.

What has Downing Street said about school closures?

Despite concerns, Boris Johnson has been against the idea of closing schools early, and is ‘confident’ that this Christmas will be ‘much better than last’.

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A Downing Street spokesperson spoke on the matter saying: “We’ve seen how disruptive some of the restrictions can be and we’ve always taken steps to keep schools open until we have absolutely no other choice.”

The Department for Education also said that sending home large groups of children should be a ‘last resort’.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “The news of a new variant – the so-called Omicron variant – will have understandably caused concern for people across our country, including our teachers, wider education and childcare staff, parents, pupils and students.

“We are already taking targeted and proportionate action as a precaution while we find out more information about the new variant.”

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What has WHO (World Health Organisation) said about the new variant?

The World Health Organisation has labelled the new variant a ‘global threat’.

On whether the new variant was more transmittable they said that it is ‘not yet clear’ whether this variant will spread easier than other variants, including Delta.

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