The newly identified Omicron variant of the coronavirus is more transmissible than the Delta variant, according to the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
Mr Johnson said, although it is too soon to draw conclusions, early indications suggest the new variant may be more contagious than Delta. He was speaking at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to update his team of ministers on the latest COVID-19 situation.
The PM’s spokesperson said:
The prime minister said it was too early to draw conclusions on the characteristics of Omicron, but early indications were that it is more transmissible than Delta.
It however remains unclear if the Omicron strain is more dangerous. Early reports from South Africa, where it was first identified, seem to suggest that while this variant is spreading faster than the Delta variant, it is causing milder illnesses.
However, experts say definitive data will not be available for weeks. It i also not clear how effective the vaccine would be against this variant.
The spokesperson added that there was no debate among cabinet ministers on whether to bring in stricter measures this winter to contain the spread of the virus.
‘Now Is The Time’
More than 100 new cases of Omicron have been identified across the UK as of Tuesday, bringing the total number to 437 - 333 in England, 99 in Scotland, five in Wales and none so far in Northern Ireland.
The Health Secretary, Javid Sajid told MPs, people with no recent travel history have started testing positive for the virus, indicating that the transmission is now happening within the community. He said:
This includes cases with no links to international travel so we can conclude there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England.
The PM said, people need to get their COVID booster shot now, while respecting reintroduced measures such as wearing of masks in shops and public transport, as well as self-isolating when one comes into contact with an infected person.