UK government told Omicron appears ‘more transmissible’ than Delta

A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said early findings indicate the Omicron Covid variant is more transmissible than Delta.

The comments came after the government's Cabinet was given an update on the variant, the BBC reported.

"The prime minister said it was too early to draw conclusions on the characteristics of Omicron but early indications were that it is more transmissible than Delta," the spokesperson said.

READ MORE: Dozens must isolate as two party boat guests thought to have Omicron

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But they cautioned that there was no "hard agreement" on how transmissible it was, and that it was too early to have firm data on vaccine efficiency or the severity of illness caused by Omicron.

Cases of the new variant continue to rise in Australia, with more expected to be confirmed after an outbreak on a party boat in Sydney.

Five people of 140 guests – all of whom had to show proof of vaccination – have so far been diagnosed with COVID-19, including two of the Omicron variant.

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Victoria is expected to confirm its first case of the new variant today after testing was carried out on a vaccinated arrival.

While Australia has closed its borders to several African nations, where the first Omicron cases were recorded, so far state premiers are holding firm on keeping domestic travel open.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said Australia was not seeking to eliminate the variant.

READ MORE: Could the Omicron variant actually be milder? Here's what we know

He told a Senate inquiry that "at this stage" there was no definite sign the Omicron variant was more severe.

Professor Kelly said that the strain will circulate here but health authorities will aim to slow its transmission until more is known.

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