UK hikes virus alert level as omicron variant surges

LONDON (AP) — The British government has raised the country’s official coronavirus threat level and warned the rapid spread of the omicron variant has pushed the U.K. into risky territory. The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said Sunday the emergence of the highly transmissible new strain “adds additional and rapidly increasing risk to the public and health care services” at a time when COVID-19 is already widespread. The doctors said early evidence shows omicron is spreading much faster than the currently dominant delta variant and that vaccines offer less protection against it. British officials say omicron is likely to replace delta as the dominant strain in the U.K. within days.