The Scottish government said earlier on Monday it had detected six cases and health officials in England had previously announced three positive tests for Omicron over the weekend, taking the total in the UK to 11
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A further two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid have been detected in England, with the two people both having links to travel to southern Africa, health officials said on Monday.
The Scottish government said earlier on Monday it had detected six cases and health officials in England had previously announced three positive tests for Omicron over the weekend, taking the total in the United Kingdom currently to 11 cases.
The individuals that have tested positive are not connected to each other and are not linked to the previously confirmed cases.
One case is located in Camden, London, and the other case is located in Wandsworth, London. Both have travel links to southern Africa.
The individuals and their households have been told to self-isolate. UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.
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Six cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 have also been identified in Scotland, with four cases in the Lanarkshire area and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said: “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.”
Scientists around the world are scrambling to find out whether the new variant, first identified by scientists in South Africa, is more deadly or if it evades vaccines.
Over the weekend Omicron cases were also confirmed in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia.
In a hastily-convened press conference from Downing Street on Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that face masks would be reintroduced in shops and on public transport.
It was later confirmed that the new rule will come into effect from tomorrow, Tuesday.
He also said that contacts of those with the Omicron variant would be ordered to isolate for 10 days, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
And anyone arriving in the UK from anywhere in the world will have to take a PCR test on their second day, isolating until they have a negative result.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the rule changes on Sunday morning, when he announced mandatory mask-wearing will return to shops and public transport on Tuesday
But, despite fears over another lockdown, Mr Javid told families to plan for Christmas “as normal”.
He said it was “nowhere near” time to reintroduce social distancing rules and work-from-home guidance, despite the raft of precautions being introduced.
Passengers arriving in the UK have been told that from Tuesday morning they will have to take a PCR test for Covid-19, with the expectation they will have to 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, amid concerns that existing jabs will be less effective against the strain, which is believed to spread rapidly.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.