As the world scrambled to forestall the unfold of the new Omicron coronavirus variant that was first detected in southern Africa, Britain’s Health Security Agency confirmed on Saturday that two cases of the variant had been recorded in the nation.
In a information convention on Saturday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson mentioned that to curb the unfold of the variant, face masks could be required in shops and on public transportation, a rule the nation had resulted in July.
“As always, I must stress this, with a new variant there are many things we just cannot know at this early stage,” Mr. Johnson mentioned.
“It does appear that Omicron spreads very rapidly and can be spread between people who are double vaccinated,” he added. Although the science round Omicron continues to be new, it’s a “very extensive mutation” of earlier configurations of the virus that would scale back vaccine effectiveness, Mr. Johnson mentioned.
The cases are mentioned to be linked to journey in southern Africa, the British authorities confirmed in a press release. Sajid Javid, Britain’s well being secretary, described the new cases as a “stark reminder” that the pandemic was not but over.
“Thanks to our world-class genomic sequencing, we have been made aware of two U.K. cases of the Omicron variant,” Mr. Javid mentioned. “We have moved rapidly, and the individuals are self-isolating while contact tracing is ongoing.”
The nation’s well being company is now finishing up focused testing at a number of places the place infections might have been unfold. Britain may also require vacationers from overseas to get a PCR take a look at inside 48 hours of their arrival and require contacts of those that take a look at constructive with a suspected case of Omicron to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination standing.
“We don’t yet exactly know how effective our vaccines will be against Omicron, but we have good reasons for believing they will provide at least some measure of protection,” he mentioned.
In addition to the six nations in southern Africa that have been added to Britain’s journey ban listing on Friday to forestall the unfold of the Omicron variant, 4 different nations — Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia — have been additionally added. Being on the listing requires vacationers to quarantine in a government-approved lodge for 10 days.