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Case of Omicron variant of Covid-19 confirmed in South Cambridgeshire

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been confirmed in South Cambridgeshire.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed a further nine cases of the highly mutated variant have been found in England, including one in the district.

It takes the confirmed number of Omicron cases in England to 22.

The Omicron variant has been found in South Cambridgeshire
The Omicron variant has been found in South Cambridgeshire

The location of the case within South Cambridgeshire has not been specified.

The UKHSA said the individuals that have tested positive and their contacts are “all isolating”. It is carrying out “targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious”.

Jyoti Atri, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s director of public health, said: “We are working closely with UKHSA to identify any close contacts of the confirmed case who has recently returned to the UK from an area where Omicron is circulating.

“We are providing support and advice to make sure that they are self-isolating appropriately while their PCR tests are carried out.

“Omicron is a variant that we are concerned about as we need to understand how much protection the current vaccines offer against this variant, if it is more transmissible or has a worse effect on people than the current variants. Scientists are currently studying the virus and we will know more in the coming weeks.

“Protective measures - such as compulsory face coverings in public indoor spaces such as shops and public transport, and new regulations for people returning from abroad - are being put in place to buy time, while we learn more about this variant and while the booster vaccination programme is extended.

“So please make sure that you observe these measures, and if you haven’t done so already, you have had your initial two vaccinations.

Jyoti Atri, director of public health for Cambridgeshire
Jyoti Atri, director of public health for Cambridgeshire

“Please also book your booster as soon as you are eligible, as this remains the best protection for you, people you love and the wider community - www.thevaccinators.co.uk has all the available venues and times across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and is being regularly updated with new sites and times as they become available.”

Cllr Richard Howitt, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s adults and health committee, said: “We had already moved swiftly in Cambridgeshire to protect our residents by getting government to agree to us becoming an Enhanced Response Area at the beginning of November.

“So even before news broke about a new variant being identified, we were taking additional protective measures in our schools, and to increase the numbers of those vaccinated.

“The fact that this case has been identified so quickly should give people assurance that local health systems are operating effectively and everything which can be done is being done in the fight against Covid.

“We understand that the booster programme is being massively extended, and while that is happening I would urge people to be patient and, in particular, polite and understanding with those running the vaccination sites – who are often volunteers.

“The same protections against other variants are the best and only protection for Omicron. Let us all follow the advice to get the vaccinations, wear a face mask, observe social distancing and wash our hands.”

The UKHSA said work is under way to identify any links for all cases to travel to southern Africa, where the variant first emerged.

It has now identified cases in the East of England, East Midlands, London, South East and North West and

A further case has been identified in Scotland, bringing the total there to 10.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said: “We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.

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

“Following the change in JCVI advice earlier this week, a booster dose for everyone over 18 years is now recommended and will be available at a minimum of three months from your last primary course jab. Please take up this offer as soon as you are eligible to protect yourself, your families and your communities.

“Please make sure to wear a mask in line with government guidance, including on public transport and in shops, to help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.

“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.”

Ahead of the start of the accelerated programme, booster jabs are currently offered to people aged 40 and over, six months after their second jab. These are available on a walk-in basis at all large-scale vaccination centres in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, except Chesterton Bowls Club, where limited parking means it is switching to bookings only from Thursday, December 2. You can find a full list of large-scale vaccination sites and details here.

The UKHSA has updated its stay at home guidance and non-household contacts guidance to reflect the changes to self-isolation requirements for contacts of people who have been identified as a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Analysis of live samples of the new variant is being conducted in laboratories to investigate the response to current Covid-19 vaccines, amid concerns that Omicron’s mutations may mean they are less effective. However, it is thought that vaccines will significantly reduce the chance of severe disease.

The breakdown of Omicron cases by local authority is:

  • Barnet: 2
  • Bexley: 1
  • Brentwood: 1
  • Buckinghamshire: 1
  • Camden: 2
  • Haringey: 1
  • Lancaster: 1
  • Lewisham: 2
  • Liverpool: 1
  • Newham: 1
  • North Norfolk: 1
  • Nottingham: 1
  • South Cambridgeshire: 1
  • Sutton: 1
  • Three Rivers: 1
  • Wandsworth: 1
  • Westminster: 3

Read more

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