TWO cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been reported in Britain, Sajid Javid confirmed today.

The Health Secretary said the dreaded super-strain has been reported in Chelmsford and Nottingham as fears of a second Christmas lockdown grow.


Mr Javid said the two individuals who have tested positive and all members of their households are now self-isolating.

They are being re-tested and have been told to self-isolate while further testing and contact tracing is underway.

The Health Secretary said the cases were "linked" to travel from South Africa where the mutant strain has seen an explosion of cases.

He added targeted testing is now being carried out in Britain, as travel restrictions were set to be introduced for Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola.

Announcing the news today, Mr Javid told Sky News: "Late last night I was contacted by the UK Health Security Agency.

"I was informed that they have detected two cases of this new variant, Omicron, in the United Kingdom.

"One in Chelmsford, the other in Nottingham."

He added that Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola would be added to Britain's red list from 4am Sunday in a desperate bid to stop further cases entering the country.

Travellers who have returned from these four countries in the last 10 days must also isolate and get a PCR test.

It comes after Senior Government scientists warned the mutant Omicron variant was the “worst variant they have seen so far” – with vaccines expected to be at least a third less effective against it.

Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, said the variant could be “of real concern” as its 32 mutations in its spike protein could enable it to more easily evade a person’s immune system and spread to more people.

On Twitter, he wrote the variant “very, very much should be monitored due to that horrific spike profile” that could make it more contagious than any other variant so far.

Meanwhile, the variant's spread has sparked fears a second Christmas lockdown could be on the cards with Prof Adam Finn, from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, warning Brits to be "ready for the possibility of a change in the restrictions”.

Boris Johnson will hold a press conference on the matter at 5pm this afternoon.

Sajid Javid said this week the new variant identified in South Africa “may be more transmissible” than the Delta strain and added “the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective”.

Officials are also desperately trying to trace thousands who have arrived from South Africa in the past ten days.

Scientists had previously said the new strain was unlikely to be in the UK, but with up to 700 people flying in a day, they could not rule it out.


More to follow…

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