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Two people in the UK have been found to be infected with the new Covid variant, Omicron, the health secretary has said.

Sajid Javid said the UK Health Security Agency had detected cases in Chelmsford, Essex, and in Nottingham.

He said the cases were linked to travel in southern Africa and they and their households were self-isolating as more tests and contact tracing take place.

The new variant has also been identified in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be holding a press conference at Downing Street later with the chief scientific advisor to the government, Sir Patrick Vallance, and the UK’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty.

The new Omicron variant was first reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa on Wednesday.

Countries around the world are currently racing to introduce travel bans and restrictions on southern African countries in an effort to contain Omicron’s spread.. The USA and other countries have already restricted travel from 8 African countries.

On Friday, the UK placed South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini on UK’s red Travel list.

In his announcement on Saturday, the health secretary said Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia would be added to that list.

“If anyone has travelled to these four countries or any of the other red-listed countries in the last four days then they must self isolate and take PCR tests.”


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