Coronavirus: Omicron variant - also known as South African variant - found in UK for the first time
Two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant feared to have a higher reinfection rate have been detected in the UK, as the government added extra African countries to the travel red list.
The individuals and all members of their households have been ordered to self-isolate after one case was detected in Chelmsford, Essex, and the other in Nottingham.
Both cases are believed to be connected and there is a link to southern Africa.
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Health Secretary Sajid Javid said targeted testing is now being carried out, as travel restrictions were set to be introduced for Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola.
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said: ‘We will continue to work closely with the international community to quickly gather and analyse information on this variant to understand any possible increase in transmissibility or resistance to vaccines.
‘It is important that everyone takes sensible precautions – get a PCR test if you have symptoms, isolate when asked, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, ventilate rooms, get your vaccine and boosters as soon as you can.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out further measures during a Downing Street press conference later on Saturday.