A further 86 cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant have been reported in the UK, bringing the total to 246 - as a government advisor warns it is "too late" to stop it spreading.

Today's figure is a significant jump from yesterday's total of 160.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says 18 of the cases are in Scotland, taking its total up to 48.

The UK Government is concerned about the Omicron variant, due to the high number of mutations to its protein spike.

This may mean that it's better at neutralising anti-bodies and therefore lessen the efficacy of the vaccine.

Whether or not this is the case remains unclear, with teams of scientists across the globe working to find out the likely impact.

It is unclear how dangerous the Omicron variant is (


AFP via Getty Images)

It comes as a scientific adviser has warned it is "too late" to stop the spread of Omicron.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) which advises the Government, said the measures would not make a "material difference" as the variant is already "spreading pretty rapidly".

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: "I think that may be a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

"If Omicron is here in the UK, and it certainly is, if there's community transmission in the UK, and it certainly looks that way, then it's that community transmission that will drive a next wave.

"The cases that are being imported are important, we want to detect those and isolate any positive cases we find, as we would for any case anywhere.

"But I think it's too late to make a material difference to the course of the Omicron wave, if we're going to have one."

Yesterday, it was announced all travellers arriving in England will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test from Tuesday - while Nigeria is being added to the Government's travel red list.

Ministers said the extra test was intended to be a temporary measure following new data showing an increase in the number of cases of the new strain linked to foreign travel.

The travel industry reacted with fury after the latest measures were announced, despite ministers insisting they were only "temporary".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference about Covid-19 (


POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization announced yesterday that no one has died from the new strain, which has been detected in 38 countries.

The US and Australia have become the latest countries to confirm locally transmitted cases of the variant as Omicron brought South Africa's infections past three million.

Cases have also been detected in Sri Lanka, South Korea and Malaysia.

In a bid to keep cases of the variant low, travel restrictions have been reintroduced from certain countries into the UK and the mask mandate brought back in for public transport and in shops.

A strict self-isolation policy for those with the virus and who come into contact with someone who has it has also been brought in.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Sky News's Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: "I know that is a burden for the travel industry but we have made huge, huge strides in this country.

"We have got to take the measures targeted forensically to stop the new variant seeding in this country to create a bigger problem.

"We have taken a balanced approach but we are always alert to extra risk that takes us back not forward."

Prof Woolhouse said although the numbers of people with the Omicron variant are "still quite small" and likely remain in the hundreds, they are "growing quite fast".

However, he insisted that vaccinations will still be "very, very good" at protecting against the new variant.

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