POSSIBLE cases of the Omicron variant have yet to be confirmed with laboratory procedures to identify the strain still underway.

Last Saturday Southend Council announced two cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant had potentially been found in Shoebury.

The cases are linked to a resident who travelled to South Africa, Southend’s public health director revealed earlier this week.

The suspected cases of the new variant are “close to being confirmed”, despite a “mix up” meaning that a second set of tests needed to be taken.

Krishna Ramkhelawon, director of public health for Southend, believes that confirmation of the Omicron variant will be received tomorrow (Thursday, December 9)

The second “probable case of the Omicron variant” is the partner of the resident who travelled to South Africa.

The partner had been working in a nursery; any residents who use the Shoebury nursery have been contacted for testing.

The Omicron variant appears to be “more transmissible” than the Delta strain, Boris Johnson has told told ministers, as the UK reported its highest weekly number of new Covid-19 cases since January.

A total of 336,893 new Covid-19 cases have been reported in the past seven days, including 45,691 on Tuesday, Government figures show – the highest since the week to January 16.

Official figures also showed 101 additional confirmed cases of the Omicron variant have been reported across the UK, taking the total to 437.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting the Prime Minister said it was “too early to draw conclusions on the characteristics of Omicron” but “early indications were that it was more transmissible than Delta”.