Published on : Monday, November 29, 2021
UK hit by third case of Omicron as traveller from southern Africa tests positive
A third case of the Omicron Covid-19 variant has been identified in the UK. The person tested positive after travelling to Britain from southern Africa where the variant originated.
The individual is no longer in the United Kingdom, but the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is carrying out urgent testing in areas they visited when they were likely to have been infectious.
This includes Westminster in central London, officials said.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, has since warned it is “very likely” further infections will be recorded next week. She said that their advanced sequencing capabilities enable us to find variants and take rapid action to limit onward spread.
It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focussed contact tracing.
They are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.
“It is critical that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.”The first two Omicron infections were reported in Essex and Nottingham.
Targeted testing is under way in Essex, and anyone who visited KFC on Brentwood High Street on November 19 between 1pm and 5pm is asked to get a PCR test.
Anyone who attended Trinity Church in Pilgrims Hatch, also in Brentwood, on November 21 is also asked to take a PCR test.
Today’s third case is one of the 37,681 general positive Covid tests reported in the latest 24-hour period. A further 51 deaths have also be recorded.
Dr Harries also urged anybody who has not yet been vaccinated to come forward.
“Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second or booster jab without delay,” she said.
“Wear a mask in crowded places, including public transport and shops, to ensure we all help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.”
Despite her plea, it is feared the “variant of concern” can rapidly spread between fully vaccinated people.
And in a bid to stamp out high-speed transmission, ministers have announced the reintroduction of a string of Covid-19 restrictions.
This includes the return of mandatory mask-wearing in shops and public transport from Tuesday.
Passengers arriving in the UK from Tuesday morning will have to take a PCR test, with the expectation they will self-isolate until they test negative.
All contacts with a suspected case of Omicron will have to isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
The variant prompted the government to put 10 African countries on the UK’s red list for travel – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.