A new Covid variant that has forced India to reintroduce face mask rules has been found in the UK.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has confirmed the XBB.1.16 strain, known as Arcturus, is present in the UK.

However, there are currently less than 100 cases in the country.

The Arcturus variant is a sub-variant of Omicron and has led to the Indian government reintroducing prevention measures, including face masks.

Bournemouth Echo:

The strain was first identified on January 23 this year, and was designated a variant under monitoring by March 22.

There were almost 8,000 new cases in the country on Wednesday, though the country’s federal government said there was no evidence of an increase in hospitalisations or deaths.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation's technical lead for COVID-19 response, said: "Omicron is the variant of concern that remains dominant worldwide and there's still more than 600 sublineages in circulation.

"One of the variants that we are looking at, is the variant that we have under monitoring. This is the XBB.1.16.

"It's very similar in profile to XBB.1.5. But has one additional mutation in the spike protein which in lab studies shows increased infectivity as well potential increased pathogenicity. So it's one that we are monitoring. It has potential changes that we need to keep a good eye on."