THE first cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have hit Swindon just as the government pushes to offer every over-18 a booster jab by the end of the year.

Health authorities confirmed that two cases of the new strain of the deadly disease have been recorded in the borough following two others found in wider Wiltshire on Friday.

Two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine do not fully protect people from the stronger variant - but three will. So an extra effort is being made to ensure every adult in the UK has at least got an appointment booked for their booster dose by the end of the year.

Existing vaccination sites in Wiltshire and the south west will begin extending their opening hours, while the CCG will look at opening new vaccine venues to help ensure up to 18,000 jabs can be given in the region each day over the coming weeks.

Booster vaccines will soon be available to all adults over the age of 18, providing three months have passed since a person’s second coronavirus jab.

People are encouraged to pre-book a booster vaccination appointment rather than arrive at a venue without a confirmed slot.

Coun Brian Ford said: "The speed at which the Omicron variant is spreading across the UK meant that it was inevitable we would begin to see cases here in Swindon.

"As this stage we have two confirmed cases. They are self-isolating and their close contacts are being identified and contacted by NHS Test & Trace.

"Our public health team is working closely with the UK Health Security Agency as we look to minimise the spread of the new variant.

"I'd like to thank residents in Swindon for doing their bit to limit the spread of Covid-19 within our communities and to encourage all those eligible who haven't yet had their booster vaccine to book an appointment to top up their immunity so they have better protection against this new strain of the virus."

The regional Clinical Commissioning Group’s director of nursing and quality Gill May said: “We are pulling out all the stops to ensure we meet the vaccination target announced by the government.

“It is going to be an incredibly busy few weeks, and I ask for people to show their support to our already-stretched vaccine teams by pre-booking appointments wherever possible and treating our staff with kindness and respect.”

People are reminded to make every effort to attend their vaccination appointment and, where this is not possible, to use the National Booking Service to cancel their slot.

Booster appointments can be booked online at and over the phone by calling 119.

Sites that are able to offer walk-in appointments will be advertised on

GPs seemed slightly taken aback by the PM’s sudden Sunday night announcement which came hours after the country raised the pandemic threat level to four - one below the highest level, which would lead to lockdowns.

Surgeries did not have any advance warning of this ambitious new goal and some advised patients to avoid calling their doctors for booster dose bookings until a proper plan could be put in place.

A spokesman for Ridgeway Family Practice said: “We are digesting the Prime Minister’s announcement and what this will mean in terms of patient access to appointments over the next two weeks.

“We ask you to please not phone the surgery to enquire about Covid vaccinations. At this time, we do not have any information.

“We had not been given any warning prior to the PM’s briefing yesterday, so, together with our Brunel Health Group colleagues, we are currently planning what clinics we are able to offer locally; how they will be staffed - and whether we will be forced to cancel appointments at the surgery to release our clinical team to vaccinate.

“More capacity will become available at the Steam Museum and other vaccination sites over the coming days, so please keep checking online or calling 119.

“We thank you for your patience while we work out how we can support vaccination delivery without compromising access to care.”

The latest coronavirus case figures in Swindon showed an increase of 174 in 24 hours. There were 820 new cases recorded in the last week, which is 46 more than the week before.

The UK, as of Sunday, recorded a further 1,239 confirmed cases of the Omicron mutation, bringing the total number of cases to 3,137 – a 65 per cent increase from Saturday’s total of 1,898.

A Great Western Hospital spokeswoman said: “We are working with our partners in the CCG to roll-out the booster programme to ensure people can get the protection they need against Covid-19 as soon as possible.

“We would encourage everyone to take up the offer of the vaccine if they haven’t already, and get booked in for the booster as soon as you are able.

“You can visit the NHS website or call 119 to find out when and where your soonest appointment will be.”

Yesterday, the prime minister confirmed that one person in the UK had died after catching the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which is more infectious than the Delta variant.

Meanwhile, the government’s lateral flow home testing kit website briefly ran out of stock due to a surge in orders and the NHS website for booking a third vaccine dose crashed because of the sudden influx of visitors.