HUNDREDS of new Omicron cases have been identified in Dorset in the past week.

Last week, data from the UK Health and Security Agency confirmed five cases in the county following testing in the week of November 29.

But now, the latest data shows there are more than 360 cases in the county.

The split shows 220 in the BCP area and 141 in Dorset council's area.

Sam Crowe, director of Public Health for Dorset Council and BCP Council, said: “It’s no surprise that Omicron cases are rising quickly.

"We can see from national and international data that this variant is more transmissible than Delta and is fast becoming the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the UK.

Take a look at the latest cases of Omicron across the country on our interactive map below...

"We expect to see cases continue to rise over the next few weeks, and we’ve already had high infection rates across Dorset for a number of weeks driven by the Delta variant, so it’s really important we all do what we can to protect ourselves and minimise the risks of transmission.

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"Getting your booster is the best way to protect yourself from serious illness, and I’d urge anyone who hasn’t yet had their first or second jabs to come forward – the offer is still open for everyone.

"We know that vaccination doesn’t necessarily prevent you from catching or spreading the virus, so please keep up the key public health measures – regular testing, wearing a face covering, getting plenty of fresh air and self-isolating and getting a PCR test if you have any symptoms."

Hospitalisations have remained steady in the past four weeks.

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But last week, health chiefs warned Dorset is slightly behind areas in London where Omicron is surging quickly, so the situation there was expected to be replicated.

Mr Crowe warned: “There is always a time lag between infection, hospitalisations and then sadly deaths, so it may be a few weeks before we see the real impact of any surge on people becoming seriously ill.

“We don’t yet know enough about the severity of the Omicron variant, but even if it does turn out to be less severe than Delta, with the rate of infection we anticipate it is likely that we will see an increase in people needing hospital treatment.”