Omicron Bristol: City now South West hotspot with more than 100 new cases

Bristol now has the second-highest number of confirmed cases of the Covid variant Omicron in the South West

<p>Bristol now has 119 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant </p>

Bristol now has 119 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant

The number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Bristol has risen to 119, data published by the UK Health Security Agency has revealed tonight (December 17).

The figures cover the time period up to December 15 - and mark a 116 increase from the week before.

They make the city among the hotspots in the South West with the second-highest number of confirmed cases after Plymouth, which has 124.

Aside from the 119 confirmed cases, there are also 199 cases suspected which have gone for further testing, meaning there is a total of 318 likely cases.

Elsewhere in the region, South Gloucestershire has 51 confirmed cases, 101 suspected, Bath and North East Somerset has 28 confirmed case, 71 suspected, and North Somerset 20 confirmed case, 63 suspected.

Suspected cases are found when scientists analyse the virus looking for a DNA marker called the S-gene, which is present in Delta cases but missing in Omicron and Alpha.

Once identified, swabs showing the so-called ‘S-gene dropout’ can then be sent for definitive testing for Omicron.

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The rise in the number of cases of Omicron, combined with people wanting to see family at Christmas, has led to people rushing for PCR tests and booster vaccinations.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said it was responding by ‘scaling-up’ booster vaccinations in the region.

It said it was increasing the capacity of booked appointments at our existing vaccination sites.

Meanwhile, Bristol City Council’s director for public health and communities, Christina Gray, has issued another warning for people to protect themselves against the rise in infection rates.

She said: “If you are planning on gathering with friends and family during this festive period, take a lateral flow test before you go, and try to ensure indoor areas are well ventilated.

“If you are feeling unwell, stay at home and don’t spread it around – mild illness for you could be really serious for someone else.

“Continue to wear a face covering in public spaces, unless exempt, and keep washing your hands.”

The government is urging the public to take up their booster jabs, with the rollout expanded to all over-18s and over-30s encouraged to book appointments.

And jabs are available at walk-in clinics across the country.