A case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus has been confirmed in Oxfordshire this evening.

It is one of a further seven cases of the strain confirmed in England today.

The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 29.

The individuals who have tested positive and their contacts are all isolating. Work is underway to identify any links to travel.

The Government said it has now identified cases in the East Midlands, East of England, London, South East and North West. 

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.

A further three cases have been identified in Scotland, bringing the total to 13.

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency (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.

“A booster dose for everyone over 18 years is now recommended and will be available at a minimum of three months from your last primary course jab. Please take up this offer as soon as you are eligible 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.”

Where individuals are identified as being a possible or probable case, their close contacts will be contacted and advised to isolate for 10 days and to take a test, the Government website said.

Everybody who is contacted or has symptoms should take a PCR test as soon as possible, even if they have received a positive COVID-19 PCR test within the last 90 days.

UKHSA is acting to get scientific information available as quickly as possible in order to inform the right balance of interventions to prevent transmission and protect lives.

This will include analysing live samples of the new variant in our laboratories to investigate properties such as response to current vaccines.

As viruses mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed, they said.


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