Little is known about the recently-discovered strain but there are fears due to its high level of mutation that existing vaccines will not be as effective, although recent signals have been positive
Ten more cases of the Omicron variant have been discovered in the UK taking the total across the country to 42.
A further seven cases of the variant have been confirmed in England and another three in Scotland, the UK Health Security Agency said.
The B. 1. 1.529 variant, known as Omicron, was first identified in southern Africa, but has since been reported in at least 19 other countries but is expected to be far more widespread.
Cases in the UK have been found from Glasgow, to Liverpool, Norfolk and London as the government works to try and keep the new variant from spilling out of control.
Little is known about the recently-discovered strain but there are fears due to its high level of mutation that existing vaccines will not be as effective, although recent signals have been positive.
It comes as early indications show most Omicroncoronavirus cases are “mild”, the World Health Organisation has said.
The official believes there is no evidence to suggest the efficacy of vaccines reduces when battling against the new variant.
The organisation, quoted by Reuters, suggested “most” cases so far examined are not severe.
They cautiously added there is still a lot not yet known about the new strain.
Botswana’s health ministry declared on Tuesday that nearly 80 per cent of cases of the Omicron variant detected in the country were asymptomatic.
Since its discovery the government has announced tighter restrictions, including requiring mask wearing on public transport.
So far, every confirmed case in the UK has been tested and along with their contacts are isolating.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said: “We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.
“Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second, third or booster jab without delay.
“Following the change in JCVI advice yesterday, a booster dose for everyone over 18 years is now recommended at a minimum of 3 months from your last primary course jab.
“Please take up this offer as soon as you are invited to protect yourself, your families and your communities.
“Please make sure to wear a mask in line with government guidance, including on public transport and in shops, to help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.
“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 focused contact tracing.
“That’s why it’s critical that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.