A further 39,567 Covid cases have been recorded in the UK - as officials reveal the feared Omicron variant has arrived on our shores.

A total of 131 deaths were also registered in the last 24 hours, according to government data.

Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has confirmed that the new strain - thought to be more infectious - had been found in the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding a Covid press conference at 5pm.

The UK has seen a total of 307,979 cases over the last seven days - a rise of 8.6 per cent on the previous week.

In comparison to today's numbers, yesterday - Friday, November 26 - saw 50,091 infections and 160 fatalities.

A week ago - on Saturday, November 20 - 40,941 cases and 150 deaths were reported.

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Boris Johnson is addressing the nation at 5pm (

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Four weeks earlier - Saturday, October 30 - saw 41,278 infections and 166 deaths.

Two Omicron cases have been found in the UK so far - one in Brentwood, Essex, and another in Nottingham.

The individuals and all members of their households were told to enter self-isolation, health bosses said.

A passenger walks past signage displaying the way to a Covid-19 test centre, in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport (

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AFP via Getty Images)

The UK Health Security Agency confirmed the cases, which are both believed to be connected and linked to travel to southern Africa, after genomic sequencing overnight.

Mr Javid has ordered targeted testing in the affected areas.

"We were concerned from the moment we first identified this new variant," he told reporters.

A member of staff at University Hospital Monklands attends to a Covid-positive patient on the ICU ward (

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Getty Images)

"It's a deeply concerning new variant and we do need to learn more about it but the fact that we now have these two cases in the United Kingdom does mean we need to take further measures and that's why I've set this out today."

Mr Javid did not say whether further restrictions could be added ahead of Christmas in light of the new strain, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated a "variant of concern"

Instead, he said: "We've made a lot of progress, we all want to see that protected and if anyone's sitting at home thinking what can I do? Get vaccinated."

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Mr Javid said anyone who has travelled in the last 10 days to the 10 countries now on the red list, with Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola being added to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia, they must self-isolate and take PCR tests.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: "We will continue to work closely with the international community to quickly gather and analyse information on this variant to understand any possible increase in transmissibility or resistance to vaccines."

The UK is the second European nation to have reported the presence of Omicron after Belgium said it had identified a single case on Friday.

Ministers said non-UK and Irish residents who have been in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England from 4am on Sunday.

Those who are permitted to return will be ordered to isolate in a Government-approved facility for 10 days.

South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe were added to the red list on Friday, and the UK imposed a ban on flights leaving from those nations.

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