British Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said that two cases of the South African variant, known as Omicron, has been found in England. Both the people, diagnosed with the latest Covid variant, are self-isolating in their households.
“We have been made aware by UK Health Security Agency of two UK cases of the Omicron variant. The two cases are linked and there is a connection with travel to southern Africa. These individuals are self-isolating with their households while further testing and contact tracing is underway,” Javid said.
Javid said that ‘as a precaution, we are rolling out additional targeted testing in the affected areas – Nottingham and Chelmsford – and sequencing all positive cases.’
“This is a fast-moving situation and we are taking decisive steps to protect public health,” he added.
The UK has already imposed a travel ban on six southern African countries namely South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini. Javid said that four more countries, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola, have been added in the list of banned countries. The travel ban will be effective from 4 AM on Sunday
Javid said, “If you have returned from there in the last 10 days you must isolate and get PCR tests. And if you are eligible for your booster jab – now is the time to get it.”
The new variant has been identified in countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
Many countries around the world have either imposed a travel ban on the affected countries are actively considering doing so. The latest variant, according to experts, has the potential to evade Covid immunity among those either fully vaccinated or having contracted the virus before.
In India, state governments have been directed to rigorously test and screen international travellers arriving from South Africa and other ‘at risk’ countries. India was the worst affected country during its second wave during the summer this year when millions died in the absence of a decent healthcare system or due to oxygen shortages.