THIRD British case of Omicron ‘super-mutant’ is detected in London as contact tracers urgently hunt for church-goers and KFC visitors linked to outbreaks in Essex and Nottingham – but today’s UK Covid cases fall 5.8% to 37,681 and deaths drop from 61 to 51

A third case of the newly identified ‘super-mutant’ Omicron coronavirus variant has been recorded in the UK, officials have confirmed.  

The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said the individual, who is longer in the country, tested positive for the variant after spending time in Westminster, London. 

UKHSA said the infection was ‘linked to travel to southern Africa’ and sources have claimed they did not go to Parliament during their time in the UK, with the case instead linked to the wider borough. 

An urgent hunt for contacts of the three UK cases continued today as members of a church congregation and staff, customers and delivery workers at a KFC outlet have been told to get a PCR test for the Omicron variant after it was detected in Brentwood.

Essex County Council said the targeted testing affects anyone who visited the KFC in Brentwood High Street on November 19, between 1pm and 5pm. The authority said it also affects people who attended Trinity Church in Pilgrims Hatch on November 21.

Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said: ‘Our advanced sequencing capabilities enable us to find variants and take rapid action to limit onward spread.  

‘It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focused contact tracing.’

It comes after another 37,681 Covid cases and 51 deaths were recorded in the UK today. 

The number of infections posted by Department of Health officials today is down 5.8 per cent from 40,004 recorded last Sunday, while the number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid fell by 16.4 per cent from 61 last week. 

he first two cases of the variant were detected in Nottinghamshire and Essex on Saturday.

Both were linked to travel to southern Africa, the suspected origin of the mutation, and the infected individuals and members of their households were told to self-isolate after the UK Health Security Agency confirmed the sequencing.   

Today, the Health Secretary said the government was taking ‘proportionate and balanced’ precautions to ‘buy time’.

He also confirmed that masks will be compulsory again in shops and on public transport from Tuesday. 

According to a message on the passenger locator form section of the Government’s website, day two tests for arrivals in the UK will also need to be PCRs rather than lateral flows from 4am on Tuesday. 

But Mr Javid stressed there is no certainty that the ‘super-mutant’ strain will be able to dodge vaccines, or to what extent that could happen.    

Mr Javid said the government would consider updating the recognised symptoms for Covid, after being told on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that reports in southern Africa suggested people did not lose sense of smell or taste and suffered more fatigue.

‘We will of course if we need to,’ he said.

The reassurance effort came after Boris Johnson announced changes to testing and isolation rules, and mandatory masks in shops and on trains in a bid to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible new variant.

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