First Covid-19 Omicron variant case is confirmed in North Northamptonshire
UK Health Security Agency says traveller is now self-isolating after returning from abroad
Health chiefs have today confirmed the first case of the Covid-19 Omicron variant in North Northamptonshire.
The UK Health Security Agency told local officials on Tuesday (December 7) a traveller tested positive after returning to England from abroad.
Officials did not narrow down the location but added that any close contacts have been traced and will also quarantine if necessary.
Lucy Wightman, Northamptonshire's director of public health Northamptonshire, said: "They travelled home via private vehicle before isolating in line with government guidance to quarantine.
"All contact tracing has now been completed."
Extra PCR testing is under way in the south of the county after 13 cases of the Omicron variant were identified in the area.
Health chiefs say 13 cases had been confirmed by Monday night but it was "highly probable" there were more.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms or who has been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive for the virus should get a test to see if they are infected — although appointments need to be booked online in advance.
Omicron was first identified less than two weeks ago but is believed to be the most transmissible Covid variant yet and experts are wary a surge in infections could overwhelm the NHS this winter.
Mrs Wightman said: "We don't want people to panic but we asking them to exercise common sense and caution and where they may have started to be a bit complacent about wearing face coverings, who they meet, taking regular lateral flow tests and whether they've had their booster vaccination.
"We are acutely aware that people are fed up with this.
"At same time, with this new variant we don't fully understand how transmissible it is, the impact on somebody vulnerable or how effective our vaccination programme is against it.
"We don't know how serious this can be health-wise and what we do know is that of the cases we've identified nobody required hospital treatment.
"But the population we're dealing with is primarily young and healthy and not anybody with significant underlying health conditions.
"So that's not to say if others in wider community contracted Omicron they would also have mild symptoms.
"We're still dealing with small numbers and until we've seen more cases and how it affects different people with differing underlying conditions, we don't really know how serious it could be.
"So we're asking people to take steps to protect themselves and others until this picture is clearer."
Health secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament on Monday there are now 261 Omicron variant cases in England.
He added: "This includes cases with no links to international travel so we can conclude there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England."