NO cases of the Omicron Covid variant have been found on the Isle of Wight so far.

However, the Island's public health chief has urged us to be cautious.

A total of 29 Omicron Covid cases have been found in England but it was today (Friday) confirmed by the Island's public health director, Simon Bryant, that none have been recorded on the Island.

The Omicron variant, so far found in 20 countries, has a different protein spike than the other types of coronavirus, with health professionals still unsure about how it reacts to the vaccines, how seriously ill people can become from it and how it spreads.

Speaking at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council's local outbreak engagement board, Mr Bryant told members initial signs were it could be okay but still wanted to be very cautious about it.

Where Omicron cases have been found in England, very targeted and more robust contract tracing has been enforced.

Mr Bryant said those who have been in contact with an Omicron case will have to self-isolate for ten days regardless of what vaccine you have had or how many doses.

After the meeting, Mr Bryant said with all mutating viruses people need to be concerned but there is a 'precautionary principle' of ensuring precautions are in place should there be a case.

He said the way forward would be for people to carry on following good hand hygiene, face coverings, ventilating spaces and questioning whether they have let the 'right behaviours lapse'.

The Island was in a better place than it was last year, Mr Bryant said, when the Island was in Tier 1 but saw a sudden surge in cases in the new year as people mixed bubbles.

He said: "We have got the vaccination programme and it is going really well; We are seeing cases coming down in those over 60 because of the booster; We are seeing fewer hospitalisations because the vaccine programme is so effective.

"We have a lot of virus but not as many people as seriously ill, which is really good news."

Mr Bryant thanked Islanders for everything we have done, and continue to do, but urged people to get vaccinated, including pregnant women.

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