Scientists probing 75 possible Omicron UK cases with ‘fears of hundreds more’

There are nine known cases of the Omicron variant of Covid in the UK so far, with three in England and a further six confirmed in Scotland this morning

A Covid testing centre in Nottingham where one of England's confirm Omicron cases is
A Covid testing centre in Nottingham where one of England’s confirmed Omicron cases is

Scientists are probing 75 possible Omicron cases in the UK with fears there might be hundreds more.

Seventy-five “probable” cases have been flagged to government scientists who are also looking into 150 possible other cases that could all be the new Omicron variant, according to government sources the Sun reported.

This comes as the UK Health Security Agency has warned it is “very likely” that more cases will be discovered in the UK in coming days.

So far, nine cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in the UK.

Three outbreaks in England have been located in Nottingham, Brentwood Essex, and in Westminster where the person is no longer in the UK.

People wearing masks walking in Westminster, London



In addition to the three already known in England, six cases were confirmed in Scotland this morning.

There are concerns the new variant will spread more rapidly than before, and could even evade vaccines.

Scientists have called for more patience and said they need time to understand more about the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced the reintroduction of a number of measures, including mask-wearing in shops and on public transport, to help combat the virus.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is also expected to expand the booster rollout to every adult in the UK.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the JCVI, was asked on BBC Breakfast about the six new cases discovered in Scotland.

He said: “I think it’s almost inevitable that we’re going to see many, many more cases than we’ve seen before.

“The key question is whether this virus has a transmission advantage over the Delta, which is the prevalent virus at the moment.

A traveller wearing personal protective equipment arrives at the international terminal at Sydney Airpor



“Vaccines can do heavy lifting, but they can’t do all the lifting and actually social distancing measures, that’s wearing face masks, distancing, ventilation… and measures like that are important as well.

“So I think we will see some more of these measures and I know the Government have announced face masks in public transport already and that may be extended, but we’ll just have to wait and see whether this Omicron virus takes a big hold in this country and how big a problem it actually is.

“It’s obviously a worrying development, but I don’t think there’s any need for anyone to panic. What they do need to do though is get vaccinated.”

One of the main concerns about the Omicron variant is the number of mutations and where they have occurred.

It has had around 50 mutations, of which around 32 are in the spike protein, the bit which connects the virus to cells to infect people, and which the vaccines target.

It is mutations here which scientists are worried could lead to it evading the vaccine.

Health minister Edward Argar said that it is “still early days in terms of understanding” the new variant and that scientists needed time to understand it, and the threat it poses.’

Mr Argar said he was not anticipating that coronavirus restrictions would be tightened further in the run up to Christmas.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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