NINE cases of a new Covid variant, that may be more resistant to Covid-19 vaccines than existing variants, have been found in the UK.

The new variant has been dubbed the Omicron Covid variant, following the pattern of Greek code-names like the Alpha and Delta variants.

Over the weekend the World Health Organisation said the new variant was one of concern – however, whether the variant has a higher transmissibility rate and the severity of the disease is yet to be determined.

The closest case of the Omicron variant to Oxfordshire was detected in central London.

The person, who had travel links to Southern Africa, is believed to have visited Westminster before leaving the county.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is now carrying out targeted testing in places the person visited when they were likely to be infectious.

Six cases of the new variant have been detected in Scotland this morning.

One other case of the Omicron variant was found in Brentwood, Essex, and the other case in Nottingham.

Both individuals also had travel ‘links’ to Southern Africa.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said that targeted testing was currently taking place in these areas.

It is likely that more cases of the Omicron variant will be found in the coming days.

In order to curb the effect of this new variant, the government has introduced a number of new restrictions.

These include:

  • Face coverings will be compulsory in shops and on public transport from Tuesday
  • All contacts of the suspected Omicron case will be required to self-isolate for 10 days (regardless of vaccination status)
  • Anyone entering the UK will need to have a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival – they will need to self-isolate until they have a negative result
  • The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the UK’s vaccine advisory body, will consider giving the booster vaccine to ‘as wide a group as possible’ and will reduce the gap between the second dos and booster