Keynote message for Omicron variant – England
The UK Government has taken a balanced and proportionate response to the current Covid–19 mutation with the Omicron variant having been identified in South Africa. Vaccination remains the best control of Covid–19 and any potential mutations. Follow the existing guidance, including the changes made in England in the last few days.

Face Coverings
You must wear a face covering in shops and on public transport. Face coverings should be worn in communal areas of universities, colleges and schools by staff, visitors and pupils or students in Year 7 and above.

Isolation – Contact
If you’re a contact of someone who may have been infected with the Omicron variant, you must stay at home and self-isolate even if you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and 6 months. The public health advice for people with symptoms of, or a positive test result for Covid-19 remains the same for everyone – you must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of your age or vaccination status.

If you’re travelling to England from abroad you must take a PCR test before the end of day 2 following your arrival and self-isolate until you get a negative test result, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

Booster vaccines
People aged 40 to 49 can now get a booster vaccine 6 months after their second dose.

Lateral Flow Test Kits (LFT)
Lateral flow test kits can be ordered online or collected from a local pharmacy. If you are collecting from a local pharmacy you will need to order online, and a collection code will be sent to you.

Signs and Symptoms
If you demonstrate any signs or symptoms, DO NOT attend work until you have taken a LFT and confirmed a negative result. If the LFT confirms a positive result, complete a PCR test and follow the self-isolation rules until confirmation of negative. Any person who tests positive will be required to self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started, or if no symptoms, confirmation from the date of the PCR test result.

  • For example, your symptoms started at any time on the 15th of the month (or if you did not have symptoms but your first positive COVID-19 test was taken on the 15th), your isolation period ends at 23:59hrs on the 25th.

If your PCR test result is negative but you still have symptoms, you may have another viral illness such as a cold, flu or a stomach bug. You should stay at home until you feel well and for at least 2 more days if you have had diarrhoea or vomiting. Seek medical attention if you are concerned about your symptoms.

Post Covid Testing
If you have tested positive by PCR for Covid-19, you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. However, it cannot be guaranteed that everyone will develop immunity, or how long it will last.

It is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for some time after Covid-19 infection.

If you have previously received a positive Covid-19 PCR test result, you are not usually advised to be re-tested within 90 days of this result. However, you should have a PCR test within 90 days of a previous positive PCR test if:

  • you develop any new symptoms of Covid-19
  • you are a close contact of someone who has been identified as a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19
  • you are required to take a PCR test upon entry into the UK.

If you are tested within 90 days of a positive PCR test result for any of these 3 reasons, and the PCR test result is positive, you must stay at home, self-isolate and follow the steps in this guidance again. If you have an LFD antigen test within 90 days of a previous positive Covid-19 PCR test, for example as part of a workplace or community testing programme, and the result of this test is positive, you and your household should self-isolate and follow the steps in this guidance again. If it is more than 90 days since you tested positive by PCR for Covid-19, and you have new symptoms of Covid-19, or a positive LFD antigen or PCR test, follow the steps in this guidance again.

For further support please contact the SHEQ Team.