The first case of the new Covid Omicron variant has been confirmed in Norfolk this week.

The case linked to the variant has been confirmed in North Norfolk and is understood to be linked to known travel to South Africa, health officials have said.

Covid case rates in Norfolk are standing at 348 per 100,000 meaning the risk of the virus being passed on at Christmas gatherings remains high, health official have warned. 

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “We didn’t see much of our friends and family last Christmas which is why I’m sure we’re looking forward to celebrating it with them this year.

“All the way through the past 20 months our maxim has been to protect yourself, protect others and protect Norfolk and that is equally true today and moving forward. We’ve been doing it for what is a long time now but continuing with those few basic steps  of handwashing, wearing a mask and keeping our distance will still help to reduce the risk of infection and stop COVID ruining Christmas 2021.”

Before attending a Christmas party or meeting with family and friends, the advice is to take a lateral flow test. Remember to wear a face mask when out festive shopping.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director for public health, added: “We’ve not seen a winter surge in Covid figures in the UK so far, which means we’re all hoping to enjoy a more traditional Christmas than we could last year. But COVID-19 is still a threat and the recent news of the Omicron variant reaching Norfolk is a reminder we all need to be careful: to keep case rates from climbing and ensure we don’t risk spending our Christmas in self-isolation, we need to keep practicing the good habits we’ve picked up over the last year.”