Two UK cases of Omicron Covid variant detected with ‘link to travel to southern Africa’

27 November 2021, 14:17 | Updated: 27 November 2021, 16:01

One case was located in Brentwood and the other in Nottingham
One case was located in Brentwood and the other in Nottingham. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Two cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been detected in the UK, the health secretary has confirmed.

The UK Health Security Agency confirmed two cases of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 have been identified in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference later on Saturday about the discovery of the Omicron variant in the UK where "further measures" are set to be discussed.

The individuals that have tested positive, and all members of their households, are being re-tested and have been told to self-isolate while further testing and contact tracing is under way.

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One case has been located in Brentwood and the other in Nottingham.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: "The UK Health Security Agency is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to have been infectious.

"In response to the developing situation, the UK is taking decisive action to protect public health. Confirmed cases and contacts are being followed up and requested to isolate and get tested as necessary."

The two cases are linked and there is a link to travel to Southern Africa.

From 4am Sunday Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola will be added to the travel red list, UK officials confirmed today.

Travellers who have returned from these four countries in last 10 days must isolate and get a PCR test. UKHSA are following up recent arrivals from these countries.

Flights have already been banned from six African countries amid concerns over the variant.

The travel ban imposed during the week applies to South Africa – where the variant was identified – as well as Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana. They will be added to England's travel "red list."

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid said: "Thanks to our world class genomic sequencing we have been made aware of two UK cases of the Omicron variant. We have moved rapidly and the individuals are self-isolating while contact tracing is ongoing.

“We will do all we can to protect the UK public against this emerging threat and that is why we are surging testing capacity to the impacted communities and introducing travel restrictions on a further four countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. We will not hesitate to take further action if required.

“This is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic. Getting the vaccine has never been more important – please come forward for your first jab if you haven’t already and if eligible, book your booster as soon as possible.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said: “We will continue to work closely with the international community to quickly gather and analyse information on this variant to understand any possible increase in transmissibility or resistance to vaccines.

“It is important that everyone takes sensible precautions – get a PCR test if you have symptoms, isolate when asked, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, ventilate rooms, get your vaccine and boosters as soon as you can.