Omicron variant is now circulating within the community, confirms Sajid Javid

Mr Javid told MPs on Monday that “multiple regions of England” were seeing cases of the variant that were not linked to international travel.

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The Omicron variant of coronavirus is now circulating within the community, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed.

Mr Javid told MPs on Monday that “multiple regions of England” were seeing cases of the variant that were not linked to international travel.

The Health Secretary told the House of Commons, according to the latest data there are now 261 confirmed cases in England, 71 in Scotland and four in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases across the UK to 336.

“This includes cases with no links to international travel. So, we can conclude that there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England.”

Sajid Javid said about 350 military personnel will be deployed in England this week to “support the vaccine booster programme”, adding there are more than 100 personnel deployed in Scotland for a similar aim.

Mr Javid said: “When the virus adapts, we must adapt too. We cannot say for certain what Omicron means for our response, but we can say that we’re doing everything in our power to strengthen our national defences.”

He added the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) now has data that shows the Omicron variant may have a shorter window than other variants between infection and showing symptoms.

New measures have been announced on international travel, with anyone travelling into the UK now having to show proof of a negative lateral flow or PCR test, no longer than 48 hours before departure to the UK, whether vaccinated or not.

The measures are set to come into practice from 4am tomorrow, including a new rule that travellers must have a two day PCR test, while isolating until they receive a negative result.

The Health Secretary added that the rules introduced are temporary and will be reviewed next week.