WITHOUT Plan B, Omicron’s peak could be HIGHER than January and “very stringent measures will be needed,” health bosses warn.
The new Covid variant could put “significantly more pressures” on the NHS as the country struggles to keep the R rate down, a report said.
The Omicron peak could be higher than the one Brits experienced in January 2021, the study said[/caption]
Health bosses warned that it’s highly likely that “very stringent measures” will be needed to keep the R rate below 1.
And Omicron’s peak could be higher than January 2021 – when Brits were forced into a full, total lockdown.
The statement from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group, stated: “If omicron in the UK combines increased transmissibility and immune escape, irrespective of severity, it is highly likely that very stringent measures would be required to control growth and keep R below 1.
“Delaying any wave of infections in such a scenario would allow more time for vaccines and therapeutics to be modified to combat omicron.”
If we follow the trend that has been set in South Africa, the peak of infections in the UK may be much larger than the one experienced in January 2021.
And even if Omicron was half as severe as Delta, the number of infections will still lead to “significantly more pressures” on the NHS.
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It continued: “If initial estimates of transmission advantage and immune escape from South Africa are applicable to the UK population, there is the potential for a very substantial peak of infections much larger than occurred during the winter wave of January 2021.
“Even if severity of omicron were half that of delta, the sheer number of infections could lead to significantly more pressures on health and care settings.”
And the report said that even after restrictions are put in place, deaths and hospitalisations will continue to rise for several weeks.
But once hospitalisations begin to increase at a rate similar to that of cases – four doublings could already be in the system.
This would even happen before interventions that slow infections are reflected in slower hospitalisations, the statement said.
The grave findings come as Boris Johnson told Brits to work from home and use vaccine passports for nightclubs and footie matches in a fresh Covid squeeze.
At a gloomy press conference, the PM pulled the trigger on the Government’s Plan B to tackle the rising tide of Omicron cases ripping across Britain.
He announced he was toughening the rules as scientists warned the NHS could be swamped by 1,000 daily patients infected with the super-strain.
Flanked by top docs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, the PM relayed sobering evidence that the mutation is doubling between every 2.5 and three days.
Giving a Commons statement at the same time Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs there are 568 confirmed cases variant – but the estimated current number is “probably closer to 10,000”.
Mr Johnson said the “most important thing” was for Brits to get their booster jabs after previously praising the Sun’s Jabs Army campaign.
But he also unveiled new rules meaning people will be required to show they’re either double-jabbed or provide a negative test for crowded gatherings.
It applies for nightclubs, indoor events with 500 attendees or large outdoor gatherings like sports games.
From Monday the guidance – but not the law – will change asking all but key workers to work remotely as they did from March last year to July’s Freedom Day.
Mr Johnson said: “I know this will be hard for many people, but by reducing your contacts in the workplace, you will help slow transmission.”
And from Friday current mask requirements will be extended from just shops and public transport to cover all enclosed spaces like cinemas and theatres.
But you won’t have to wear face coverings in impractical places like at bars in pubs and gyms.
The PM said: “There’ll be of course exemptions where it’s not practical, such as when eating, drinking, exercising or singing.”