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30th Nov 2021

UK now has 22 Omicron cases, as PM confirms 8 new infections

Steve Hopkins

The government on Tuesday announced plans to supercharge efforts around the booster jab

Eight new cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been detected in England, officials announced on Tuesday as the government announced plans to offer boosters to all over-18s by the end of January.

The total number of cases of the new strain now stands at 22, with other infections recorded in Scotland, London, Essex, and Nottingham. It was first recorded in the UK over the weekend.

Sajid Javid said Tuesday that the government expects to see the number of cases rise in the next few days and admitted there is a “lot we don’t know” about the variant. The Health Secretary said scientists are “working night and day” to learn more.

The new cases have been identified in the East Midlands, the East of England, London, and the North West and officials say the individuals who have tested positive and their contacts are all isolating.

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The UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said work is now underway to identify any links to travel to southern Africa.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said: “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.”

Boris Johnson announced at a Downing Street press conference Tuesday that 150 more community pharmacy sites in England, as well as extra hospital hubs, will be added to fastrack the Covid booster programme.

“Temporary vaccine centres will be popping up like Christmas trees,” the Prime Minister said, adding that military personnel will be on hand to help the programme, along with volunteers.

The announcement around new cases came after Dr Harries caused a stir after suggesting Brits socialise less ahead of Christmas and don’t do so “when we don’t particularly have to”.

The government has not changed its official advice around socialising.