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What is the Omicron variant, what do we know about it, and why are we concerned?

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19, is constantly changing and mutating, which means there will often be new variants detected. It is normal for any virus to change over time. 

Omicron has more mutations than previous strains of Covid-19. However, there is still a lot that we do not know and we will continue to learn more about it over the next few weeks. It is possible that it may spread more easily than previous strains. One concern is that our current vaccines may not be as effective, although there is evidence now emerging that that being doubly vaccinated and having a booster may help prevent serious illness. 

 While the scientists are working hard to find out more, we need to be cautious. We are being proactive and asking people to take action now, to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and to keep our communities as safe as we can. This is especially important for older people, people with long-term illnesses, and pregnant women, who are all more vulnerable to severe disease. 


 Key messages for everyone who lives or works in Manchester

Back to basics – the measures we have become so familiar with are really important in slowing down the spread of COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, so please keep:   

  • Having your COVID-19 vaccinations and booster jabs when invited 
  • Washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or hand sanitiser 
  • Wearing face coverings on public transport and in crowded and enclosed places such as shops, unless you’re exempt  (this is no longer a legal requirement from Thursday 27th January 2022, but the government is suggesting that you 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)
  • Letting fresh air in if you meet indoors – meeting outdoors is safer!
  • Wiping down surfaces (handles, doors etc) 
  • Having a PCR test if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and self-isolating if required 
  • Staying at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community 


COVID-19 vaccinations  

  • If you haven’t had your first or second vaccination yet, it is never too late. Visit for more information, or call the Manchester Gateway for free on 0800 092 4020 or 0161 947 0770 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am–6pm, excluding bank holidays). The Gateway can also book a free taxi if you need help getting to your vaccination appointment 
  • If you have already been vaccinated, everyone aged 18 years or above can get a booster three months after their second dose; visit or call 119 if you’re eligible for a booster


Rapid lateral flow tests when you don’t have symptoms 

Please continue to use rapid lateral flow tests before: 

  • Entering crowded or enclosed spaces  
  • Going to places that have limited fresh air 
  • Meeting people at higher risk of severe illness

Help and support services 

  • Manchester COVID-19 Helpline – Call free on 0800 234 6123 , or text 07890 036 892. This service is for anyone with COVID-19 questions. It can also help with booking vaccination or testing appointments and answering questions on when to self-isolate. Advice is provided by a nursing team seven days a week, 9am–5pm, and a translation service is available 
  • Support is also available from Manchester’s Community Response Hub, open Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm. Freephone 0800 234 6123, text 078600 22876, email for support with managing fuel top-up payments, access to food, delivery of medication and combating loneliness 
  • Support to self-isolate – There is a lot of help and support if you do test positive. If you’re on a low income and you’re asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, you may be able to get a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment. For more information visit 
  • For more general information visit or


 The school has a detailed risk assessment outlining all of the measures in place to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and what the school would do if cases of infection began to rise. A copy of the risk assessment and outbreak management plan can be found below.