Two cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in the United Kingdom overnight, the U.K. Health Security Agency announced Saturday.
Why it matters: The discovery comes as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.
Driving the news: The U.K. cases appear to be linked, per the health agency.
- “One case has been located in Chelmsford and the other in Nottingham. The two cases are linked and there is a link to travel to Southern Africa,” per the agency.
- The two confirmed cases are self-isolating with their households, U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.
- “This is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic. Getting the vaccine has never been more important – please come forward for your first jab if you haven’t already and if eligible, book your booster as soon as possible,” Javid said.
The big picture: The cases in the United Kingdom come days after the first cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in South Africa.
- President Biden on Friday announced that the U.S. will impose air travel restrictions for eight countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho and others, amid concern over the variant.
- Israel on Friday also detected the country’s first case of the Omicron variant in an individual who had traveled from Malawi, AP reports. Two additional suspected cases are being investigated.
- The United Kingdom on Saturday also imposed travel restrictions for Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, adding to the six countries placed on the “red list” on Friday, per the health agency.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.