United Kingdom

Further 26 cases of Omicron variant brings confirmed number in UK to 160

The World Health Organization announced this afternoon that one has died from the new strain, which has been detected in 38 countries and recorded 160 times in the UK

The number of cases found continues to rise

The number of Omicron Covid variant cases in the UK continues to rise, with 26 more detected.

The UK Health Security Agency said 25 of the cases were found in England.

It means the total number of confirmed cases of the variant in the UK now stands at 160, the agency said.

The UK Government is concerned about the Omicron variant, due to the high number of mutations to its protein spike.

This may mean that it’s better at neutralising anti-bodies and therefore lessen the efficacy of the vaccine.

Whether or not this is the case remains unclear, with teams of scientists across the globe working to find out the likely impact.

The Government is once more encouraging people to wear masks to try and halt Omicron’s spread
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Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock)

In a bid to keep cases of the variant low, travel restrictions have been reintroduced from certain countries into the UK and the mask mandate brought back in for public transport and in shops.

A strict self-isolation policy for those with the virus and who come into contact with someone who has it has also been brought in.

It remains to be seen whether Omicron leads to a higher rate of death and hospitalisation than previous mutations.

The World Health Organization announced this afternoon that one has died from the new strain, which has been detected in 38 countries.

The US and Australia have become the latest countries to confirm locally transmitted cases of the variant as Omicron brought South Africa’s infections past three million.

Cases have also been detected in Sri Lanka, South Korea and Malaysia.

It is unclear if Omicron will have a higher hospitalization rate than other variants
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Getty Images)

The WHO has warned it could take weeks to determine how infectious the variant is, if it causes more severe illness and if vaccines are effective against it.

WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan: “We’re going to get the answers that everybody out there needs.”

The health body also said Omicron could cause more than half of Europe’s Covid cases in the next few months.

International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said the new variant could slow the global economic recovery.

The new variant could also slow global economic recovery, just as the Delta strain did, International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday.

She said: “Even before the arrival of this new variant, we were concerned that the recovery, while it continues, is losing somewhat momentum.

“A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence.”

The rise in new Omicron cases in England is a third that of yesterday, when 75 were recorded.

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