UK officials say investigating possible increase in Omicron cases

Health officials say they are investigating a rise in Covid cases in Britain this week



A woman walks past signage outside a pop-up vaccination centre for the Covid-19 vaccine or booster, in Hammersmith and Fulham in Greater London. — AFP
A woman walks past signage outside a pop-up vaccination centre for the Covid-19 vaccine or booster, in Hammersmith and Fulham in Greater London. — AFP

By Reuters

Published: Fri 3 Dec 2021, 9:01 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Dec 2021, 9:06 PM

Health officials in Britain said on Friday they were investigating a rise this week in the number of Covid-19 tests results that have a trait that is associated with the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant of concern.

One of Omicron’s mutations produces S-gene target failure (SGTF) in about half the PCR tests in use in Britain, allowing it to be distinguished from Delta and providing a clue over the spread of Omicron before full genomic sequencing.

Although a useful early indicator of the spread of Omicron, SGTF is associated with other variants too, such as Alpha.

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“The proportion of test results displaying SGTF has been very low in recent months but an increase has been observed in the past week,” UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

“This is still a very small number of cases but is being investigated carefully to understand whether it is related to travel, any other variant or whether there is evidence of spread of Omicron beginning in the community.”


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