The Omicron variant is just days away from becoming the UK’s dominant strain and now accounts for a third of all new cases in the UK. London, experts have warned.
Ministers were briefed on the country’s ‘deeply worrying situation’ during an emergency Cobra meeting on Friday night.
Community secretary Michael Gove, who mostly held the briefing, said the data presented was ‘very challenging new information’ as he named London and Scotland as hotspots.
Speaking after the meeting, he said: ‘We know that we have the highest number of Covid infections across the UK recorded today since 9 January.
‘We know the Omicron variant is doubling every two to three days in the UK, and possibly even faster in Scotland.
‘We know that 30% of the cases reported in London are of the Omicron variant and of course we only identified Omicron in this country two weeks ago.’
The infection rate increased by 25.3 per cent in the capital, in the week ending 4 December. It was the fastest increase in all nine regions of England.
Around 474.7 out of 100,000 Londoners tested positive for the virus – the highest number since January last year.
The city’s hospitalization and death rates haven’t increased accordingly but this is still possible as those statistics often take longer to come up with positive tests.
Scientists are alarmed at the rate at which cases are escalating daily.
Worrying data has shown that millions of people have no effective protection against Omicron without boosters.
About 58,194 people tested positive for the virus on Friday, of which 448 were confirmed as Omicron. This brings the total number of known cases of the mutation in the UK to 1,265.
While this represents less than 3% of the country’s cases (10,719,165), not every test is analyzed for Omicrons so many cases go undetected.
It took only 5 days for known Omicron cases in the country to more than quadrupled – 90 cases were confirmed on Monday.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) estimates that if rates continue, Omicron will account for more than 50% of UK cases by early December.
Although the evidence seems to suggest that Omicron is more contagious than Delta, some doctors say it causes milder illness than earlier variants.
However, it’s too early to know for sure, and experts say it can still lead to hospitalization and death.
Mr Gove has hinted at the possibility of more restrictions amid reports ministers could return to ‘Plan C’ including Vaccine passports in pubs and restaurants.
He said: ‘We need to look at things. I think the approach we’re taking is commensurate.
‘We recognize the importance of balancing people’s ability to get on with their lives, with the need to protect them against this virus.
“But action is absolutely necessary, and when new data becomes available, we will review the action we need to take in the face of that data.”
However, the prime minister’s official spokesman insisted the ministers had no intention of further restricting freedoms.
He said: ‘Obviously we need to look at the characteristics of this variant and we will act if necessary, but there are no plans beyond what we have laid out.
‘As a Responsible Government you would, of course, expect us…we have a range of options available to us in terms of measures we can take to mitigate development. of any variant or virus. But there are currently no plans to go beyond that. ‘
But since then, experts say the UK may have no choice but to introduce more restrictions as they anticipate. The Omicron variant can kill 75,000 this winter.
Warning from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who also joins the Scientific Study Group on Influenza Pandemic Modeling (SPI-M) or the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
The team believes it may be necessary to consider restrictions on hospitality, closing some entertainment venues and limiting the number of people that can gather together.
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https://metro.co.uk/2021/12/11/london-is-uks-omicron-hotspot-as-variant-makes-up-30-of-new-cases-15754095/?ITO=metro-trending London is UK omicron 'hot spot' as variant accounts for 30% of new cases