The first case of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant was detected in Liverpool last week and confirmed cases across the UK have continued to rise.
Last Tuesday, when Public Health Liverpool confirmed the infected individual in the city was self isolating and track and trace procedures had been enacted, the total tally for Omicron cases in the UK stood at 21.
The latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency reveal that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 Omicron cases in the UK is now 246.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Scotland is now 48.
A UKHSA spokesperson said: “The individuals who have tested positive and their contacts are all isolating. Work is under way to identify any links to travel.”
The Prime Minister said events should not be cancelled due to the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Speaking to broadcasters, Boris Johnson said: “The most important thing is that people should follow the guidance that we’ve set out and people shouldn’t be cancelling things, and there’s no need for that at all, that’s not what we’re saying.”
He said apart from the measures introduced “we want people to continue as they are”.
Reaction to Liverpool case
Director of Public Heath Liverpool, Matthew Ashton, said: “Omicron is a new variant and we have more work to do to understand how easily this can be transmitted, and how well vaccines work to protect against it.
“In the meantime, it is important that we all play our part to slow its spread and prevent transmission by keeping COVID-safe. Vaccination is crucial – please get your first, second and your booster jab without delay.”
There are walk-in centres across the Liverpool City Region where you can receive your boosters jabs and vaccines without an appointment if you are eligible.
Booster vaccines should protect people from falling seriously unwell from the Omicron COVID-19 variant, a new study suggests.
New COVID-19 restrictions in England
Face coverings are now compulsory again in shops and on public transport in England as part of new measures aiming to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
The new measures came into place at 04:00 on Tuesday morning, with all travellers returning to the UK also required to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must also self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status.
Is Omicron more transmissible?
There were early warnings that the variant could be more transmissible, given how quickly it had spread in South Africa’s Gauteng province - where up to 90% of new cases are already Omicron.
The reason why many scientists believe it can spread faster is that ten of its 30 or so mutations are on the “spike” protein - the part of the coronavirus that acts a bit like a lock pick, changing shape to allow the virus to latch on to human cells.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it is still too early to know for sure.
“It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants, including Delta,” they said.
“The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.”