The Omicron coronavirus variant is the first in months that appears to have caused serious concern for scientists and politicians.

We received confirmation this week that the variant has been identified locally, and although we are told isolation measures have been put in place, if there’s anything we’ve learnt over the last two years, it’s how easily viruses can spread.

We are all hoping the Omicron variant is not anywhere near as serious as previous ones and while there are murmurs of ‘mild symptoms’, as a general population we have no idea how it will affect some people.

During the first wave, we saw how much pressure Watford General Hospital was put under.

Read more: Borough has one of the highest Covid booster jab uptakes in England

We all remember what happened in the weeks after last Christmas.

The hospital cannot be allowed to be overrun with Covid patients once again, and we cannot allow all of the sacrifices everyone has made over the last 18 months or so to go to waste.

Scientists and health experts have urged caution in the run-up to Christmas, suggesting limiting social contact and taking precautions such as masks at lateral flow tests to reduce risk.

Read more: Man fined £1,100 for not wearing face mask

None of us would want to be denied the chance to be with our families this Christmas because we had caught Covid at the office party or meeting friends.

By taking the collective responsibility of wearing face coverings ­— which reduces transmission ­— and getting booster vaccines we can slow down the spread until we have more certainty about Omicron.