The United Kingdom has become the latest European country to record the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, after two cases were detected on Saturday.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a statement that overnight genome sequencing confirmed that two cases of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 had been identified in the country.
The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, who also confirmed the report, said the two cases and members of their households had been told to self-isolate while further testing and contact tracing are underway.
He said “One case has been located in Chelmsford and the other in Nottingham. The two cases are linked, and there is a link to travel to Southern Africa. The UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to have been.”
READ ALSO: WHO names new Covid-19 Variant ‘Omicron’
Javid added that there would be targeted testing in the areas where the cases were found over fears of higher re-infection rates.
The health secretary added: “We were concerned from the moment we first identified this new variant.
“It’s a deeply concerning new variant and we do need to learn more about it but the fact that we now have these two cases in the United Kingdom does mean we need to take further measures and that’s why I’ve set this out today.”
Meanwhile, the UK has added four more African countries – Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola – to an initial list of six countries that had been placed on the red list and restricted from travelling to the country from Sunday.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, we all want to see that protected and if anyone’s sitting at home thinking what can I do? Get vaccinated,” Javid stated.
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