'I was informed that they have detected two cases of this new variant Omicron in the United Kingdom, Sajid Javid said
Two cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the UK, the health secretary has confirmed.
The individuals and all members of their households were told to enter self-isolation after one case was detected in Brentwood, Essex, and another in Nottingham. The UK Health Security Agency confirmed the cases, which are both believed to be connected and linked to travel to southern Africa, after genomic sequencing overnight. Health Secretary Sajid Javid ordered targeted testing in the affected areas.
Ministers said non-UK and Irish residents who have been in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England from 4am on Sunday.
"Late last night, I was contacted by the UK health security agency. I was informed that they have detected two cases of this new variant Omicron in the United Kingdom- one in Chelmsford, the other in Nottingham," Mr Javid said.
"The two individuals concerned are self isolating alongside their whole household while further tests and sequencing is carried out".
Essex County Council later clarified the case had been detected in Brentwood, Essex, not Chelmsford.
The prime minister will be holding a Downing Street press conference later on Saturday with Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance to outline "further measures," he added.
Mr Javid said anyone who has travelled in the last 10 days to the 10 countries now on the red list, with Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola being added to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia, they must self-isolate and take PCR tests.
Earlier this week, Mr Javid said the variant could pose "substantial risk to public health".