North Norfolk now has a confirmed case of Covid-19 variant Omicron
A single case of Covid-19 confirmed as the Omicron variant has been recorded in North Norfolk.
No details have been released about where in the authority the person lives or works but they and their contacts are all isolating.
It is one of eight further cases identified by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), previously known as Public Health England, of Covid-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 (Omicron) in England.
The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 13. Nine cases have been identified in Scotland.
With the new cases work is underway to identify any links to travel to Southern Africa.
Omicron was first identified in Botswana, but very quickly further cases were picked up in a number of other countries including South Africa, Hong Kong and Israel.
Its identified mutations risk making it both more transmissible and more likely to evade people's existing immunity.
As well as the case in North Norfolk, new cases have also been confirmed in the East Midlands, East of England, London and North West.
UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.
Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said: "We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.
"Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second, third or booster jab without delay.
"Following the change in Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice yesterday, a booster dose for everyone over 18 years is now recommended at a minimum of 3 months from your last primary course jab. Please take up this offer as soon as you are invited to protect yourself, your families and your communities.
"Please make sure to wear a mask in line with government guidance, including on public transport and in shops, to help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.
"It’s 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. That’s why it’s critical that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately."
As viruses mutate often and at random, it is not unusual for small numbers of cases to arise featuring new sets of mutations. Any variants showing evidence of spread are rapidly assessed.
UKHSA is acting to get scientific information available as quickly as possible in order to inform the right balance of interventions to prevent transmission and protect lives.
This will include analysing live samples of the new variant in its laboratories to investigate properties such as response to current vaccines.