First case of Omicron confirmed in Suffolk with 16 more suspected
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
The first case of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in Suffolk with 16 more cases suspected to be the new strain, public health bosses say.
These cases were detected in the county between November 25 and December 5.
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: "We can confirm that we have one confirmed case, and 16 suspected cases."
The spokesman added that because only one case had been confirmed it was too soon to tell if community transmission was taking place in the county.
This comes as cases of Covid across Suffolk and Essex increase.
West Suffolk currently has the highest case count in the county, with more than 500 cases per 100,000 people.
It can also be seen that the increase in case numbers in Babergh is very rapid, with an increase of more than 100 cases per 100,000 reported since last week.
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Cases in Essex are also increasing in every district of the county, with the highest number of cases in Maldon, with 675.5 cases per 100,000 people.
However, case numbers in Colchester and Uttlesford have shown a faster rate of increase, each increasing by almost 100 cases per 100,000 people.
Stuart Keeble, director of public health at Suffolk County Council said: "This is a new variant and clearly it has got people concerned, but we shouldn’t be panicking.
“The fact is viruses mutate and that is what they do.
“We must not be surprised that we will see the spread of the Omicron variant in Suffolk.
“Transmission will take place, we will have it seeded from people travelling from other countries, and what we will do as a local system is to really focus down on those individual cases, identify contact tracing.
“If we can try to slow down any transmission that gives us as much time to get jabs into people’s arms.
On a national level the prime minister has said "early indications" show that Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta strain of Covid-19.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “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.”
However he added there was no debate around the Cabinet table on whether to introduce Plan B of the Government’s plans to control the virus this winter, which will involve widespread working from home.
Health Secretary, Sajid Javid told MPs on Monday that “multiple regions of England” were seeing cases of the variant that were not linked to international travel.
And he said he could not guarantee the variant would not “knock us off our road to recovery”, as he said the “the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron”.