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Omicron ‘isn’t spreading as fast as predictions warn’, as half of London's patients diagnosed with Covid AFTER admission

Dec 21, 2021

OMICRON "isn't spreading as fast as doomsday predictions suggest," an expert said as Boris monitors cases "hour by hour."

A leading Covid expert revealed half those patients in London's hospitals were only diagnosed with Covid after admission with another condition as the rate of admission "may be slowing down."

The current data has led to fears that hospitalisations are following the exponential increases seen with cases in recent weeks.

Cambridge professor Sir David Spiegelhalter claims that overall admissions to hospital should remain manageable – as the rate "isn't looking quite as bad" as once thought.

If the rise in Covid cases in hospitals was because people were becoming severely ill with Omicron, numbers could be expected to continue to increase quickly.

But if rising hospital admissions are happening while a higher proportion of the public has Omicron – and some of them end up in hospital – then numbers may not rise exponentially. 

Sir David told Channel 4 News: "People are going to be watching London very carefully over the next few days, which has had a huge surge in Omicron, doubling every couple of days.

"But their admissions in London… the speed by which they are going up may be slowing down. It's not looking quite as bad as it was in terms of the speed of increase."

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He added: "Around half the extra admissions in London with Covid were in fact diagnosed with Covid after they had been in hospital, in other words they had Covid anyway, which vast numbers of people in London now do, and then they found out they had Covid once they'd gone to hospital."

Figures published on the NHS England website show there were 1,248 patients in hospital with coronavirus in London on December 14 – but only 963 of them were there because of the virus.

Sir David said was "very difficult to say" where hospitalisations would ultimately end up because of the uncertainty in the Omicron models.

The Sun is also urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.

A booster shot is the best protection against Omicron, with early data suggesting it pushes efficacy back up to 75 per cent.

Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive said: “Once again, we urge everyone who is able to get a booster jab to come forward and do so. It is the best defence we have against this highly transmissible new variant."

Yesterday, the PM dropped the strongest hint yet more restrictions could be needed to battle the rising tide of Omicron infections.

Speaking in No10 he said: "We agreed that we should keep the data from now on under constant review, keep following it, hour by hour.

"And unfortunately, I must say to people – we will have to reserve the the possibility of taking further action to protect the public and to protect public health and to protect our NHS.

"And we won't hesitate to take that action."

OMICRON OUTLOOK

The PM said he “will rule nothing out” in the fight against Omicron, following a testy virtual Cabinet meeting.

The Queen has called off her Christmas gathering at Sandringham for a second year but Premier League chiefs refused to cancel festive fixtures — despite Covid ravaging teams.

As Mr Johnson mulled over a cap on indoor mixing and forcing pubs to only serve outside, there was a ray of hope for celebrations as booster jabs hit the million-a-day target.

He yesterday warned he "reserves the possibility" to impose fresh Covid restrictions – but is not pulling the trigger just yet.

After a marathon three-hour emergency Cabinet meeting the PM announced he would be reviewing the "extremely difficult" situation hour by hour.

Top docs this afternoon presented Cabinet with sobering stats about the super-strain's rapid spread that risks swamping hospitals.

Following the meeting Mr Johnson warned that the "explosion" of Omicron was a wake-up call for Brits to get their booster jabs NOW.

Mr Johnson said the arguments in Cabinet for and against more measures were "finely balanced".

The Sun revealed today that the PM delayed announcing more curbs after Cabinet demanded clearer data before imposing measures that would hammer business.

Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng are believed to be among the voices afraid of the impact on the economic recovery by rushing through curbs.

Granting a concession to Cabinet hawks, Mr Johnson said: "In view of the balance of risks and uncertainties, particularly around the infection, hospitalisation rate of Omicron – how many people does Omicron put in hospital – and some other uncertainties to do with the severity, the effectiveness and so on we agreed that we should keep the data from now on under constant review."

Angry Tory MPs are also gearing up to rebel and warn more than 100 of them will vote against any more restrictions.


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