Two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in Barnet have been linked to international travel.

Dr Tamara Djuretic, Barnet Council’s director of public health, said on Wednesday that both cases of the new strain were associated with travel to South Africa, and so far there was “no evidence of community exposure or community spread” within the borough.

The World Health Organisation warned on Monday that the Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa, posed a “very high” global risk of infection surges.

As of Thursday, a further seven cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus have been confirmed in England and another three in Scotland, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Read more: Omicron: Two people in Barnet test positive for new Covid variant

It brings the total number of confirmed cases in England to 29 and the total in Scotland to 13.

In England, cases have been identified in the East Midlands, East of England, London, South East and North West. One case of the strain has also been identified in neighbouring Haringey.

Dr Djuretic said no targeted testing was currently required in any community settings in Barnet. She added that the council was working with the UKHSA to “act promptly in identifying any possible close contacts of the cases”.

The government has announced new measures designed to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, which came into effect on Tuesday.

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Face coverings are now compulsory in shops and on public transport. All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, and international arrivals are required to take a day two PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons on Monday that Covid-19 booster jabs will be offered to people aged under 40 and the minimum gap between second and third vaccine doses will be halved from six months to three.

Dr Djuretic asked residents to follow the new national restrictions and to be “Covid-safe in their everyday lives”. 

She added: “As full vaccination is still the best protection against severe illness, we are promoting getting vaccinated with both doses and a booster when eligible, wearing a face covering on public transport, shops and crowded places, meeting outdoors if you can and opening windows to let fresh air in if meeting indoors. 

“Isolating immediately and getting a PCR test is crucial if people have symptoms, along with the use of lateral flow tests before socialising.”