The first confirmed case of the new variant of Covid-19 known as 'Omicron' has been reported in south London as authorities seek to control the latest strain of the virus from taking hold.

On Monday (November 29), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it had identified two further cases of the Omicron variant in England, both of which were reported in London.

One of those was found in Wandsworth, south London, the UKHSA said. The other case was confirmed in Camden. Both cases, the agency said, had travel links to southern Africa.

The new cases brought the total confirmed Omicron cases in England to five.

The individuals and their households have been told to self-isolate. UKHSA is carrying out targeted testing at locations where the positive cases were likely to be infectious.

Responding to a request from the Wandsworth Times, a spokesperson said: 

"The UK Health Security Agency are leading the ongoing investigation into a confirmed Omicron variant case in Wandsworth and we are working closely with them to ensure that all appropriate actions to identify close contacts and arrange testing are completed." 

Wandsworth’s director of public health Shannon Katiyo added: "I want to reassure people in Wandsworth that we have good measures in place for dealing with variants and these are working well. The Council will continue to do everything we can to keep residents safe and encourage them to maintain good hand hygiene, wear face coverings when required, get tested, and get vaccinated.

"There are things we can all do to keep ourselves and others safe.  Please follow the Government instruction to wear a face covering on public transport and in shops and we would strongly advise also in crowded or indoor settings. In addition, try to keep your distance from people not in your household.

"If you have symptoms, no matter how mild, isolate and get a PCR test immediately. Use rapid lateral flow tests before you mix with others. It is never too late to get the vaccine – book online to get your first, second or booster at" 

Six cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variant known as B.1.1.529 have also been identified in Scotland, with four cases in the Lanarkshire area and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said: "It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focused contact tracing. That’s why it’s critical that anyone with Covid-19 symptoms isolates and gets a PCR test immediately."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said previously that mandatory mask wearing on all public transport would return across the UK from Tuesday in response to news of the Omicron variant.