A further 90 cases of the new Omicron Covid variant have been reported in the UK, taking the total to 336, British health authorities have confirmed.
These include 64 new cases in England, 23 in Scotland and three in Wales. Northern Ireland has still not seen any confirmed Omicron cases, Xinhua news agency reported.
Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in infectious diseases from the University of East Anglia, told the BBC the Omicron variant could start “outcompeting” the dominant Delta variant within weeks.
He said the new variant is “spreading rather more quickly than the Delta variant”, while authorities in South Africa, where the mutation was first detected, have talked of a “rapid” increase in cases.
Britain registered 51,459 new Covid-19 infections, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 10,515,239, according to official figures released on Monday.
The country also reported a further 41 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 145,646. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.
Nearly 89 per cent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and around 81 per cent have received both doses, according to the latest figures. More than 35 percent have received booster jabs, or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.