LONDON -The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England was roughly steady in the latest week, Britain’s Office for National Statistics said on Friday, adding that not enough Omicron had been detected to estimate the spread of the variant.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher COVID-19 restrictions in England on Wednesday, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
“To date, we have identified a very small number of infections consistent with the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) among our survey participants, which is not sufficient to produce estimates at this time,” the ONS said.
“We will continue to monitor this variant and will report estimates if the Omicron variant becomes more prevalent among the population.”
The ONS said that around 1 in 60 people had COVID-19 in the week ending Dec. 1, which was the week after Britain confirmed the first cases of the variant in the country.
The figure was unchanged from the previous week.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that Omicron has a growth advantage over the dominant Delta variant and shows signs of at least partial immune evasion.
It says there is insufficient data to make an assessment of the severity of illness caused by Omicron or protection against severe disease given by vaccines or previous infection.
While UKHSA has reported 817 genomically confirmed cases of Omicron, health minister Sajid Javid has said it is spreading in the community, and on Wednesday estimated the number of Omicron infections as closer to 10,000.