Third Omicron COVID case detected in UK as government announces mask mandate
- UK authorities say that more cases of Omicron variant will be detected over the coming days
- The third individual - infected with Omicron - spent some time in Westminster
- The Omicron COVID variant was termed as a 'variant of concern' by the WHO
A third case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant was detected in the United Kingdom soon after the government announced that face masks will be compulsory in shops and on public transport. The authorities say that it is “very likely” more cases of the new potentially highly infectious variant will be detected over the coming days as a result of “focussed contact tracing”.
The Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on Sunday confirmed that the latest case, like the two others, is linked to travel to southern Africa. The individual is no longer in the UK. As per the statement, the individual spent some time in Westminster.
Only hours before the UKHSA statement, Health Secretary Sajid Javid had announced that face coverings will become a compulsory requirement in shops and public transport in England from Tuesday, as part of the tighter COVID-19 curbs being enforced in response to two cases of the new Omicron variant detected in the country.
He said that PCR tests will be required to be taken by all overseas arrivals into the UK. The move will be enforced soon.
He added that the he expects all the new measures, being introduced to give scientists more time to analyse the infectiousness and vaccine-resistance levels of Omicron, to be lifted again "within weeks".
"The reason we've set out these measures yesterday is to protect the progress we've made so we can all continue to enjoy Christmas with our families," said Jaid.
"This is about protecting the progress we've made... But it's important to react in a proportionate, and also a temporary way, I hope this is something we can remove within weeks," he said.
The Omicron COVID variant was termed as a 'variant of concern' by the World Health Organization on Saturday. It was first detected in South Africa.
In other parts of the United Kingdom – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – face coverings are already mandatory on public transport and many indoor settings.
"If one was to make decisions like that they'd have to be made very, very carefully, we're not there yet, we're nowhere near that," Javid told Sky News.
"People should continue with their plans as normal for Christmas, I think it's going to be a great Christmas," he continued.