First cases of Omicron variant confirmed in Plymouth

Residents are again being urged to follow all COVID-19 precautions extra carefully following confirmation of a small number of cases of the Omicron variant in Plymouth.

The confirmed cases are isolating at home and all close contacts have been identified. As this is the new omicron variant, the close contacts have to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status, to try to reduce the spread.

The arrival of the Omicron variant in the UK, which is believed to spread more easily than other strains of the virus, prompted the Government to announced ‘Plan B’ measures earlier this week.

These include:

From Friday 10 December: everyone must wear face coverings in public indoor venues, including cinemas and theatres

From Monday 13 December: everyone who can should work from home

From 15 December: an NHS Pass or negative lateral flow test will be needed for entrance to nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather.

Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth, said that while the arrival of the new variant in the city was not unexpected, it was a concern given the already high COVID-19 rates.

She said: “We are working with the UKHSA to try and limit further spread of the variant from these cases and make sure close contacts have been informed.

“COVID-19 rates in Plymouth are much higher than the England average and the arrival of a variant that we know spreads more easily means we all need to redouble our efforts to minimise risks to ourselves and others.

“It is likely that there are others in the city who also have the Omicron variant and we all need to behave as if it is already within our communities.

“We can protect ourselves from the new variant by being extra careful in following all the same measures that we have been asked to do for so long –wearing face coverings in busy indoor spaces, taking regular tests when we don’t have symptoms, isolating and taking a PCR test if we do, socialising only in well-ventilated areas and washing our hands.

“It remains really important that people get vaccinated, to protect against serious disease.”

COVID-19 rates in Plymouth are published on the City Council's website each week but are also available daily on the Government website.