Covid: People hospitalized with Omicron because of fear it will become dominant line

Modeling has suggested thousands of people could be hospitalized during the Omicron wave (Image: Getty Images)

The education minister has confirmed that there are people in the hospital who have tested positive for the new strain of Omicron Covid.

Nadhim Zahawi did not say whether infection was the main reason for their hospitalization or what the vaccination status of the patients was.

Warning that Omicron would soon ‘become the dominant variant in the UK and around the world’, the minister said even if the strain became milder it could lead to tens of thousands of people being hospitalized.

Mr Zahawi said a third of infections in London are now due to Omicron and the actual number of cases could be 10 times the 1,898 reported cases.

Giving an update on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme, he said: ‘We know it’s highly contagious so the doubling rate is two to three days.

‘Very soon, Omicron will be the dominant variant in the UK and possibly the rest of the world.

‘We’ve seen this movie before; we saw it with the Kent (Alpha) variant and then the Delta. ‘

He added: ‘There are hospitalizations with Omicron. We have been able to test people who have been hospitalized in the past two weeks, and therefore admission will be delayed. ‘

Early data from South Africa has shown that Omicron may cause less severe symptoms than the Delta strain, especially in vaccinated individuals.

But experts fear that even if most are not critically ill, the very high number of cases will increase pressure on the NHS as it could still mean tens of thousands of people being hospitalized.

Mr Zahawi said: ‘Let’s do a math exercise in one second. Let’s say by the end of December you have up to a million infections – 1% is 10,000 serious infections that may require hospitalization.

‘Three days later it’s two million, three days later it’s four million. Three days later it was eight million.

‘It’s risky, that even if it’s lighter, say 50% lighter than Delta, the numbers are huge – that’s a small percentage of a very large population.’

New regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Omicron were introduced on Monday, including people being asked to work from home if they can.

Face coverings have also been made mandatory in more settings and an NHS Covid card will be required to enter nightclubs and other venues with large crowds.

Ministers are under pressure to tighten rules again this week, but face a potential rebellion from Tory supporters.

Mr Zahawi said the measures currently being taken were ‘proportionate’ as he claimed the country was in a race to attract more people.

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https://metro.co.uk/2021/12/12/people-in-hospital-with-omicron-amid-fears-it-will-become-dominant-variant-15757161/?ITO=metro-trending Covid: People hospitalized with Omicron because of fear it will become dominant line

Emma Bowman

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