The total number of new COVID-19 cases in Warrington over the last 7 days has increased to 1,133 (to 2 December), and a small number of suspected Omicron cases linked to Warrington have been identified.

People suspected of having the Omicron variant have self-isolated and robust contact tracing has taken place to inform their contacts and asked them to self-isolate and take a PCR test. Extensive surveillance and monitoring will continue to help identify any further potential Omicron cases as early as possible.

This comes as the government has introduced new measures to move to Plan B in the COVID-19 Autumn/Winter Plan, following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The new measures include:

  • From 10 December, face coverings will be required by law in most indoor settings (excluding hospitality).
  • From 13 December office workers who can work from home should do so.
  • From 15 December, certain venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption.

How to stay safe this winter

Public health leaders are urging residents to stay vigilant in the run up to, and over the Christmas period, especially as people will be typically attending events and visiting busier areas where they will come into close contact with lots of people from outside their household.

Residents are urged to be extra cautious and keep up with the prevention measures that we know are effective in reducing spread. Anyone who develops any COVID symptoms should self-isolate and get an NHS (PCR) test as soon as possible.

Everyone should undertake symptom-free lateral flow testing twice-weekly, and take an additional test before going to high risk situations where lots of people are mixing, or before meeting vulnerable people.

Only a third of people with COVID-19 display symptoms, which is why regular symptom-free testing is important to identify if you unknowingly have the virus. If all of us do this, it can make a real difference in reducing the spread of the virus.

Help keep yourself and others protected by taking up the offer of the vaccine and booster when invited, as this provides the best available protection against COVID-19 and any new variants, including the Omicron variant. You can book your vaccinations online via the NHS website.

It’s also important to remember the other basics of ‘Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air’ – washing your hands with soap and water regularly, or sanitising if you are out and about, keeping your distance from others, meeting outdoors where possible and when meeting indoors, making sure any rooms are well ventilated. All of these measures will help to reduce transmission.

Thara Raj, Warrington’s Director of Public Health, said: “Evidence suggests that this new variant may be more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19. While we are learning more, it is more important than ever to do everything we can to minimise the spread of the virus generally, especially in the run up to Christmas when we may have plans to mix with more people from outside our households.”

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We must all work together and take action now to ensure we don’t undo all of our efforts to control the virus and negatively affect the Christmas holidays that we are all so desperately looking forward to.”

To find out more about coronavirus in Warrington, visit warrington.gov.uk/coronavirus. For more information on the COVID-19 Omicron variant, visit GOV.UK.