A third case of the new Omigron corona virus variant has been found in the country by a man who spent time in central London, British health officials said on Sunday. The announcement comes hours after Health Secretary Sajid Javed rejected calls for stricter controls in daily life.
The person spent time in the Westminster area of London, but was not in the country, the health care agency said, adding that a contact was being tracked. The case is said to have traveled to South Africa.
The chief executive of the agency is Dr. Jenny Harris said it was “very likely” that there would be more cases in the coming days.
On Saturday, a day after the government learned of the first two cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the masks would be mandatory on public transport and in shops across the UK from Tuesday. Strict check rules for travelers from abroad will also come into force on the day.
But the government has rejected the idea of ordering people to work from home as much as possible, introducing vaccine passports in the UK or requiring masks in restaurants. “It’s about taking proportionate action against the risks we face,” he said. Javed told the BBC on Sunday that he had spoken before a third case was confirmed.
Britain began suspending flights from six South African countries on Friday, but by the time the operation went into effect some passengers had already arrived in London.
Passengers who landed on Friday were not checked in at the airport and were able to exit as usual, including by public transport. Javed agreed. He said all travelers from South Africa would be contacted and asked to make inquiries within the last 10 days.
“We could not have acted faster,” he said.
In contrast, Dutch health officials checked more than 500 passengers on Friday on two flights from Amsterdam, South Africa. Those who were negative were allowed to leave the airport, isolate themselves at home, or continue their journey.
Mr. Javed urged the British to get booster shots as soon as possible and to seek “immediate” advice from scientists on expanding the scope of the country’s vaccination program, especially boosters.
Such activities, he added, “can continue to look forward to Christmas with family and friends, to preserve the progress we have made.”