U.K. Health Chief Says No Indication of Omicron Wave So Far

LONDON (Reuters) -
People wear face masks on the London underground, due to spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

There is no sign of a surge of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Britain so far, the chief of the U.K. Health Security Agency said on Tuesday, saying there was no rise in the proportion of tests with a quirk that distinguishes it from Delta.

Jenny Harries said there were five confirmed Omicron cases in England and 10 “highly likely” cases, but that was not a sign of an increase in “S-gene target failure” in PCR tests in Britain, which is a feature of Omicron.

“Right across the country we watch for … S-gene target failure, which is a sort of proxy measure,” Harries told BBC radio. Cases with S-gene target failure can then be prioritized for full genomic sequencing.

“We have seen no significant rise from the normal 1-in-1000 cases that we would normally have. So we’re not seeing that surge currently.”