Third UK Omicron case detected in visitor to Westminster

The third confirmed infection of the latest coronavirus strain was identified in the UK on Sunday, health officials have said.

A third UK case of the Omicron Covid-19 has been detected in someone who visited central London.

The third confirmed infection of the latest coronavirus strain was identified in the UK on Sunday, health officials have said.

The person, who was in Westminster, in London “when they were likely to have been infectious” is no longer in the UK.

They tested positive after travel to the UK and the case is linked to travel to Southern Africa.

It comes after two cases in the Chelmsford and Nottingham areas were confirmed, both of which are said to be linked to each other, and to travel to Southern Africa.

Both individuals and their households are self-isolating and contact tracing is ongoing.

The variant, known as B.1.1.529, which is thought to have originated in South Africa, was designated a ‘variant of concern’ on Saturday, November 27.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive case visited when they were likely to have been infectious.

UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive, Dr Jenny Harries (image: Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, said: “Our advanced sequencing capabilities enable us to find variants and take rapid action to limit onward spread.

“It is very likely we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focussed contact tracing.

“We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.

“It’s critical anyone with Covid-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately.”

She added: “Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant - please get your first, second or booster jab without delay.

“Wear a mask in crowded places, including public transport and shops, to ensure we all help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.”

The new strain has a number of spike protein mutations, which are described as “potentially biologically significant”.

Cases of the variant “may change the behaviour of the virus” regarding vaccines, treatments and transmissibility, according to the UKHSA, but this is not yet known by scientists.

Some restrictions have been reimposed in England, including compulsory masks in shops and on public transport and secondary school pupils and staff "strongly advised" to wear masks in communal areas.

While all contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status, and from 4am on Tuesday, November 30, anyone entering the UK will have to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they have a negative result.