BOLTON residents have been told to remain cautions after two "highly probable" cases of the Omicron variant were detected in the borough.

According to the UK Health Security Agency, both cases are linked and have been linked to travel in Southern Africa, where the variant first developed.

Both of the people concerned are self-isolating along with their families and public health authorities have advised the public to remain cautious.

Bolton Council director of public health Dr Helen Lowey said: "Omicron is a new variant and we have more work to do to understand how easily this can be transmitted, and how well the vaccines work to protect against it.

"In the meantime, it is important that we all play our part to prevent transmission by remaining cautious and taking steps to keep Covid-safe, particularly at a time when our overall coronavirus rates are going up."

The Health Security Agency says that it is awaiting the results of genomic sequencing on samples taken from the two cases that would confirm they have contracted the variant.

In the meantime, contact tracing is underway and all contacts regardless of vaccine status are being followed up and requested to isolate and get tested as necessary.

The agency and other health authorities are now stepping up efforts to ensure that as many people in Bolton are vaccinated as possibly and that as many people as are eligible receive their booster jabs.

Dr Lowey has also reiterated advice on mask wearing and hygiene.

She said: "Vaccination is critical to help us strengthen our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second or booster jab without delay.

"Wear a face covering in all enclosed spaces, including on public transport, shops and crowded places. Isolate immediately and get a PCR test if you have symptoms.

"Use a lateral flow test before socialising, and ideally test twice a week especially if going into workplaces or shopping, meet outdoors if you can as it is safer, and open a window to let in fresh air if you meet indoors.

"And if you can work from home, please do so.

"I urge everyone to look out for the Covid’s Still Here campaign and follow the advice to help keep Bolton safe and to help keep everything open through the winter."