By NewsDesk @bactiman63
UK health officials report two cases of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 after overnight genome sequencing, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed.
One case has been located in the Chelmsford area and the other in Nottingham. The two cases are linked and there is a link to travel to Southern Africa.
The individuals that have tested positive, and all members of their households, are being re-tested and told to self-isolate while further testing and contact tracing is underway.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid said:
Thanks to our world class genomic sequencing we have been made aware of two UK cases of the Omicron variant. We have moved rapidly and the individuals are self-isolating while contact tracing is ongoing.
This is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic. Getting the vaccine has never been more important – please come forward for your first jab if you haven’t already and if eligible, book your booster as soon as possible.
On Friday, UK officials introduced travel restrictions for South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Starting Sunday, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Angola will be added to the UK’s travel red list.
The B.1.1.529 variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome. These are potentially biologically significant mutations which may change the behavior of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility.