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Third case of Omicron variant detected in UK

29 Nov 2021, 04:55 GMT+10

LONDON, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- The third case of the Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Britain, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed Sunday.

The person tested positive after arriving in Britain, having been in South Africa, according to the UKHSA. The person is no longer in the country but the UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the person visited when they were likely to have been infectious.

Another two cases of the new variant, detected on Saturday in Chelmsford and in Nottingham, are "linked" and the two individuals are now self-isolating along with their households while further tests and contact tracing take place.

Meanwhile, British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that mandatory mask-wearing should come into force from Tuesday.

People will be required to wear a face mask on public transport and in shops. But people will not need to wear them in pubs and restaurants.

Javid has stressed that he hopes the new measures will be "temporary" and the government can remove them "within weeks".

A growing number of countries and regions are suspending flights from southern African countries due to the new variant, which has sparked serious concern among scientists and researchers and triggered a massive slump of stocks in Asia, Europe and the United States.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday Omicron, also called variant B.1.1.529 of SARS-CoV-2 to be "of concern", its most serious level, and officially gave it the Greek name Omicron. The WHO has asked countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to fight the new variant.

Scientists are still unclear whether existing antibodies would react well to Omicron, which has 32 spike protein mutations, more than previously found variants.

The country reported another 37,681 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 10,146,915.

Britain also recorded another 51 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 144,775. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.

More than 88 percent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 80 percent have received both doses, according to the latest figures. More than 30 percent have received booster jabs, or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.

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