Early signs indicate that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible than the Delta variant currently dominant in the United Kingdom, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Cabinet ministers on December 7.
Johnson’s official Number 10 Downing Street spokesperson told reporters in an account of the Cabinet meeting that Johnson reiterated it was still too early to draw conclusions on the wider impact of the new variant, which would depend on whether it causes severe illness.
Johnson’s comments come as the UK recorded 101 more Omicron cases on Tuesday, taking the total for the variant first detected in South Africa up to 437.
“The Prime Minister said it was too early to draw conclusions on the characteristics of Omicron but early indications were that it is more transmissible than Delta,” the spokesperson said.
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A total of 437 cases of Omicron have been identified as of Tuesday – 333 in England, 99 in Scotland, five in Wales and none so far in Northern Ireland – an increase of 101 in 24 hours.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs that cases of Omicron in people without any travel history have been confirmed in the UK, meaning it is now being transmitted within the community.