UK Covid cases breach 50,000 for second day in a row

UK Covid cases breach 50,000 for second day in a row after creeping up 1% in a week as deaths fall 10% per 143 and hospital admissions rise 8%

  • Department of Health figures showed another 50,584 positive tests were recorded over the last 24 ore
  • Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the variant already appears to be spreading in Scotland
  • Hospitalisations have risen eight per cent in a week after 787 new admissions were recorded
  • Britain’s daily Covid cases have broken through 50,000 for the second day in a row, official data showed today amid fears the Omicron variant is taking root in Britain.

    Government figures showed another 50,584 positive tests were recorded in the last 24 ore, up one per cent on last Friday. Yesterday there were 53,945 infections announced.

    Nicola Storione has warned the Omicron variant is already spreading in the community in Scotland, after six cases were linked to a steps concert in Glasgow.

    Official data also suggests the mutant strain is being transmitted domestically in England, as the number of suspected cases of the mutant strain begins to tick up sharply. Britain has confirmed 59 infections to date.

    While the variant is likely only making up a small number of cases in the UK — where the vast majority of cases are the Delta variant — it is feared the country could be on the brink of a fresh wave.

    Latest figures showed hospitalisations rose eight per cent in a week after 787 were recorded on November 29. Per confronto, seven days ago there were 730 admissions. But deaths fell by ten per cent week-on-week after 143 more fatalities were recorded.

    Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden said today that Britons should ‘keep calm and carry onwith their Christmas plans even as concern grows over the variant.

    Boris Johnson has called on Britons not to cancel festive parties, with the hospitality sector saying it is already being hit by thousands of people pulling the plug on bookings.

    Separate data estimated almost 900,000 people in England had Covid on any given day last week, a rise of four per cent on the same time last week. The Office for National Statistics said no cases were linked to the Omicron variant, and virutally all were Delta.

    And No10’s top scientists said England’s R rate may now be above one in another sign the outbreak is growing. They estimated it was between 0.9 e 1.1.

    It comes after Omicron epicentre Gauteng has seen estimates of its R rate spiral from around one to 3.5 in just a month, suggesting that every ten people infected with the virus pass it on to 35 altri.

    Per confronto, Britain’s R rate has never surged above 1.6 even in the darkest days of the second wave.

    Official data shows that the proportion of positive Covid tests with a mutation synonymous with the highly-evolved strain is on the rise. Like Alpha, or the 'Kent variant', Omicron has a specific alteration which means it can be detected through PCR tests without the need for genomic sequencing. The proportion of positive tests in England with this so-called S-gene dropout has risen from 0.1 per cent in the past week to 0.3 per cento, the equivalent of one in 330. Scientists said the increase in S-gene dropouts suggests there could be hundreds of Omicron cases that are flying under the radar currently

    Official data shows that the proportion of positive Covid tests with a mutation synonymous with the highly-evolved strain is on the rise. Like Alpha, or the ‘Kent variant’, Omicron has a specific alteration which means it can be detected through PCR tests without the need for genomic sequencing. The proportion of positive tests in England with this so-called S-gene dropout has risen from 0.1 per cent in the past week to 0.3 per cento, the equivalent of one in 330. Scientists said the increase in S-gene dropouts suggests there could be hundreds of Omicron cases that are flying under the radar currently

    Alcuni 59 cases of Omicron have been confirmed in the UK so far. Twenty-nine infections have been spotted in England, including three in Westminster and two in each of Barnet, Buckinhamshire, Camden, Lewisham and South Northamptonshire. And Scotland's cases today increased by 16 per 29. Il primo 13 infections were divided between Lanarkshire and the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, but a Government spokesperson declined to confirm where the 16 new cases were spotted. And Wales announced this afternoon that its first case has been found in Cardiff

    Alcuni 59 cases of Omicron have been confirmed in the UK so far. Twenty-nine infections have been spotted in England, including three in Westminster and two in each of Barnet, Buckinhamshire, Camden, Lewisham and South Northamptonshire. And Scotland’s cases today increased by 16 per 29. Il primo 13 infections were divided between Lanarkshire and the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, but a Government spokesperson declined to confirm where the 16 new cases were spotted. And Wales announced this afternoon that its first case has been found in Cardiff

    Quasi 900,000 people in England had Covid on any given day last week, official data suggests. This chart shows overall Covid rates

    Quasi 900,000 people in England had Covid on any given day last week, official data suggests. This chart shows overall Covid rates

    Data in South Africa shows the R-rate has soared to over three per cent in recent weeks as Omicron took hold in Gauteng province

    Data in South Africa shows the R-rate has soared to over three per cent in recent weeks as Omicron took hold in Gauteng province

    Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, experts behind a Government-funded new study say. Graph shows: The number of T-cells per 10^6 peripheral blood mononuclear cells in people who have had two doses of the AstraZeneca after a third dose of the Pfizer (red bars) and Moderna (blue bars) vaccini

    Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, experts behind a Government-funded new study say. Graph shows: The number of T-cells per 10^6 peripheral blood mononuclear cells in people who have had two doses of the AstraZeneca after a third dose of the Pfizer (red bars) and Moderna (blue bars) vaccini

    Office for National Statistics weekly surveillance suggested almost 900,000 people in England had Covid over the week to November 27. At the height of the second wave 1.1million had the virus

    Office for National Statistics weekly surveillance suggested almost 900,000 people in England had Covid over the week to November 27. At the height of the second wave 1.1million had the virus

    Official data showed today that the proportion of positive Covid tests with a mutation synonymous with the highly-evolved strain is on the rise.

    Like Alpha, or the ‘Kent variant’, Omicron has a specific alteration which means it can be detected through PCR tests without the need for genomic sequencing.

    The proportion of positive tests in England with this so-called S-gene dropout has risen from 0.1 per cent in the past week to 0.3 per cento, the equivalent of one in 330.

    Scientists said the increase in S-gene dropouts suggests there could be hundreds of Omicron cases that are flying under the radar currently.

    Oslo 60 who caught Omicron at Norwegian Christmas party all have MILD symptoms including headaches and sore throats, dicono i medici

    Dozens of Christmas party-goers who became infected with suspected cases of Omicron Covid in Norway have only mild symptoms, doctors have revealed.

    Fino a 60 people who fell ill after attending a party on Oslo’s waterfront a week ago have so-far developed headaches and sore throats while a few have a cough.

    Tine Ravlo, chief physician for the district where the outbreak took place, said the symptoms are broadly consistent with what is being reported from South Africa, where the variant first emerged.

    Ma, Ha aggiunto, it is still too early to tell whether that makes Omicron more or less dangerous than Delta. All of the infected are young and all are believed to have been vaccinateda combination that typically leads to milder symptoms.

    All of those infected at the partywhich hosted employees of South African renewable energy firm Scatecare currently recovering at home, Mr Ravlo added.

    The Olso outbreakcurrently the world’s largest-known Omicron outbreakhappened after several employees who had recently travelled to Scatec’s head office in Cape Town attended the party.

    Fifty of those who attended the Scatec party have since tested positive on a PCR test, meaning they are confirmed Covid cases, mentre un altro 10 have tested positive on a lateral flow, meaning they are suspected but not confirmed.

    Only one of the cases has so-far been confirmed as Omicron using genetic sequencing techniques, con 10-15 cases declared probable Omicron.

    But all cases are assumed to be the new variant, with the results of more sequencing tests expected soon.

    Mr Ravlo said the ‘incubation periodof the new variantthe time from infection to first symptomsappears to be two to four days.

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    Alcuni 59 cases of Omicron have been confirmed in the UK so far. Twenty-nine infections have been spotted in England, including three in Westminster and two in each of Barnet, Buckinhamshire, Camden, Lewisham and South Northamptonshire.

    And Scotland’s cases today increased by 16 per 29. Il primo 13 infections were divided between Lanarkshire and the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, but a Government spokesperson declined to confirm where the 16 new cases were spotted.

    And Wales announced this afternoon that its first case has been found in Cardiff.

    Nine of Scotland’s cases were linked to a single event on November 20 — four days before South Africa alerted the world to Omicron in a move which prompted the world to shut itself of from the nation. The fact the cases were already in the UK suggests transmission within the community is already taking place.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today that six Omicron cases were linked to a Steps concert that took place on November 22 a Glasgow. There were no cases linked to a second performance the following night.

    Laboratories determine whether Covid PCR tests are positive by looking out for certain parts of the virus, one of which is the spike protein on the outside of the cell.

    On Omicron, the spike has mutated so much that the tests cannot detect it and only confirm whether other parts of the virus are present in a person’s nose and throat swab to tell if they are infected.

    Around half of PCR tests in England are processed by laboratories that use a detection kit that looks for the spike protein and two other parts of the Covid cell.

    Scientists in South Africa, where Omicron has caused an unprecedented surge in cases in, were alerted to Omicron because they spotted the S-gene dropout.

    The changes on the spike protein have caused alarm among experts and raised concerns the strain could escape vaccine protection and natural immunity from a previous infection.

    But genomic sequencing of positive Covid samples — laboratory analysis that identifies a virus’s genetic make-up, allowing variants and mutations to be detected — remains the only full-proof way to confirm if a Covid infection was caused by Omicron.

    Dr Davies tweeted that the increase in S-gene dropout from the usual level of 0.1 per cento a 0.3 percent between November 24 e 28 ‘represents about 60 more SGTF cases than we would expect to see.

    ‘Given that Omicron causes SGTF, while the otherwise globally dominant Delta variant doesn’t, queste “excessSGTFs are most likely Omicron cases, at least some of which have yet to be confirmed via sequencing.

    'Però, this number will probably go up, as the last 2-3 days of data are still filtering in.

    Ha twittato: ‘The fact that there has been an increase in SGTF isn’t necessarily surprising — we have 22 confirmed Omicron cases in England as of today, so there was going to be an SGTF signal sooner or later. This isn’t meant to be shocking news.’

    The apparent increase in Omicron cases could suggest the variant is being spread in the community, or signal that more international arrivals — who are required to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving in the UK — are testing positive.

    Dr Davies added: ‘In a manner of speaking, we have been lucky in the UK that first Alpha had SGTF, then Delta didn’t, and now Omicron does.

    ‘Each time, we have been able to use the presence or absence of SGTF to detect probable VOC [variant of concern] cases a few days before the sequencing data has been available.

    ‘The SGTF signal also makes it easier to monitor the severity of a new variant, since it gives us another way to classify a case’s lineage and then to see whether a given lineage is more or less likely to lead to severe disease.’

    And NERVTAG, a committee that advises the Government on the threat posed by new and emerging respiratory viruses, today said there are no other Covid variants in South Africa that cause S-gene dropout.

    All of the S-gene dropout samples sequenced in South Africa went on to be confirmed Omicron cases, so it is ‘currently a reliable marker of the variant’.

    Nel frattempo, it was revealed today that the R rate in Gauteng, the epicentre of South Africa’s outbreak, has soared from less than one to 3.5 in just a month — suggesting that every 10 infected people are passing the virus onto 35 altri.

    Graph shows: The seven-day average number of cases in provinces across South Africa. Infections are spiking in Guateng (dark green line), the epicentre of the Omicron wave in South Africa

    Graph shows: The percentage of tests coming back positive in the whole of South Africa since the start of the pandemic averaged over seven days (red line) and on a daily basis (blue line)

    Graph shows: The percentage of tests coming back positive in the whole of South Africa since the start of the pandemic averaged over seven days (red line) and on a daily basis (blue line)

    Graph shows: The seven-day average number of cases per day recorded in provinces across South Africa since the end of October. Infections increased to more than 1,000 per day in Guateng (dark green line), the epicentre of the Omicron wave

    Graph shows: The seven-day average number of cases per day recorded in provinces across South Africa since the end of October. Infections increased to more than 1,000 per day in Guateng (dark green line), the epicentre of the Omicron wave

    It comes after data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) released yesterday evening showed 11,535 new Covid cases were recorded in the previous 24 ore, a jump of 368 per cent on last Thursday when 2,465 new infections were registered.

    Alcuni 51,402 people in the country took a Covid test and 22.4 per cent of them tested positive for the virus. Per confronto, 38,075 per cent of tests taken on the same day last week and 6.5 per cent were positive.

    Nel frattempo, hospitalisations rose by 180 per cent in the last seven days. Alcuni 98 people were admitted last Thursday, mentre 274 Covid-infected patients required hospital care yesterday.

    But Covid deaths have decreased from 114 last Wednesday to 44 oggi, marking a 61 per cent fall. Trends in hospitalisations and deaths lag two to three weeks behind the pattern in cases, due to the time it takes to become seriously unwell after catching the virus.

    ‘Keep calm and carry on with your Christmas plans’: Oliver Dowden attempts to end confusion over festive advice

    Tory Party chairman Oliver Dowden today insisted people should ‘keep calm and carry onwith their Christmas plans and parties despite Omicronbut Britain’s pubs, alberghi, restaurants and clubs already set to lose billions say ‘the damage is already doneas the cancellations continue.

    Mr Dowden insisted the Government had been clear in its guidelinesdespite a plethora of ministers offering contradictory and confusing advice – e detto: ‘There’s a Conservative Party Christmas party still planned’.

    He also said that providing Britons abide by mask rules on public transport and in shops, they can kiss anyone they like under the mistletoe.

    Boris Johnson has urged businesses not to cancel office parties and proceed with caution when his ministers either told people to cancel, wear masks, take tests and not snog strangersnone of which are in the Government guidelines.

    Mr Dowden told Sky News: ‘The message to people, credo, is fairly straightforwardwhich is keep calm, carry on with your Christmas plans. We’ve put the necessary restrictions in place, but beyond that keep calm and carry on.

    ‘I understand that people have concerns around the new variant. That’s why the Government has taken the sort of measures that we’ve already outlinedwe think those are sufficient at this stage and, oltre a questo, people should continue with their plans as intended.

    Amid confusion about what to do, many of Britain’s biggest employers including the NHS, banks and tech firms have axed festive bashes completely or taken them online. It is now said to be a 50/50 Diviso.

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    And a preprint published by scientists from the Stellenbosch University, near Cape Town, suggests Omicron is at least 2.4 times more likely to reinfect someone than the original strain.

    Government researchers say there has been 35,670 reinfections since the beginning of the pandemic and the risk of reinfection fell to 0.7 during the Beta-fuelled second wave last winter and the third Delta surge this summer compared to the first wave.

    But the risk of catching the virus again has risen for the first time, jumping to 2.4.

    Scientists from the Stellenbosch University, near Cape Town, said the findings suggest Omicron is able to evade protection people have from a previous infection, unlike the Beta and Delta variants that were suppressed by natural immunity.

    They said the data has important public health implications, especially in countries that have previously had high rates of infection.

    And ‘urgent questions remainover whether Omicron can evade vaccine protection just as well as natural immunity, and if so, whether this impacts hospitalisations and deaths.

    Microbiologist at Reading University Dr Simon Clarke said the data was the ‘first indicationthat Omicron could get around immunity from previous Covid infection.

    Egli ha detto: ‘There are a few caveats in this work, such as not having definitively confirmed that it was indeed Omicron that was causing the reinfection, but they were able to determine that the increased transmission of Beta or Delta variants was not a result of immune evasion.

    ‘There is no indication as to how this immune evasion happens, although it can be presumed to be because of decreased antibody binding to Omicron’s mutated spike protein.

    Ha aggiunto: ‘Omicron has blown a big hole in the controversial argument that we should simply allow the infection to spread in an attempt to create immunity.

    ‘Herd immunity which now seems like nothing more than a pipe dream. We await a further indication as to whether Omicron has any ability to evade vaccine induced immunity.

    Scientists are working at breakneck speed to establish whether Omicron is more transmissible and deadly than other mutant strains. But they say it could still be at least a week before reliable estimates start to emerge.

    Early reports on the ground in southern Africa suggested that most cases were mild or completely asymptomatic.

    But there has been no age breakdown meaning it is impossible to know whether this is because the strain is simply yet to spread to older people.

    The WHO has repeatedly claimed that it is a mild strain. Christian Lindmeier, a spokesperson for the global agency, today told reporters in Geneva: ‘I have not seen reports of Omicron-related deaths yet.

    ‘We’re collecting all the evidence and we will find much more evidence as we go along.

    ‘The more countrieskeep testing people, and looking specifically into the Omicron variant, we will also find more cases, more information, e, hopefully not, but also possibly deaths.

    Covid booster jabs ARE likely to protect against Omicron, dicono gli scienziati

    Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variante, experts behind a major new study say — in the first glimmer of hope since the emergence of the super-strain last week.

    The body’s T-cell immune response after a third dose suggests they will continue to protect against hospitalisation and death from the new strain, according to the Government-funded trial.

    It also supports the UK’s decision to use Pfizer o Moderna as boosters, with mRNA jabs turbocharging antibody and T-cell responses the most.

    T-cells are thought to provide longer lasting and broader protection than antibodies which deliver an initial higher boost of protection but also see that defence fade faster over time.

    Professor Saul Faust, trial lead and director of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, disse: ‘Even though we don’t properly understand its relation to long-term immunity, the T cell data is showing us that it does seem to be broader against all the variant strains, which gives us hope that a variant strain of the virus might be able to be handled, certainly for hospitalisation and death if not prevention of infection, by the current vaccines,’ Professor Faust said.

    He said T cell response was not just focused on the spike protein but ‘are recognising a much broader range of antigens that mightbe common to all of the variants.

    Asked specifically about Omicron, Egli ha detto: ‘Our hope as scientists is that protection against hospitalisation and death will remain intact.

    Samples from the study have now been passed to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to look at how well the Omicron variant can be neutralised by vaccines.

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    And doctors on the ground in Norway, dove 60 people fell ill with suspected Omicron after attending a Christmas party last week, said those infected are currently experiencing mild symptoms.

    Dr Tine Ravlo, chief physician for the district where the outbreak took place, said the patients are experiencing headaches and sore throats, broadly consistent with what is being reported from South Africa.

    Only one of the cases has so-far been confirmed as Omicron using genetic sequencing techniques, con 10-15 cases declared probable Omicron.

    But all cases are assumed to be the new variant, with the results of more sequencing tests expected soon.

    Mr Ravlo said the ‘incubation periodof the new variant — the time from infection to first symptoms — appears to be two to four days.

    That is far less than the seven to 14 days for most other Covid variants, and would potentially make outbreaks easier to spot — though the data is still preliminary.

    Mr Ravlo added that, finora, all infections in Oslo have been traced to the Christmas party and there is no evidence of wider community spread.

    But Dr Kall said she is ‘scepticalabout claims the new strain causes less severe disease.

    Scrivendo su Twitter, lei disse: ‘I am highly sceptical it could be more mild. I think the best case is it’s equivalent in severity to Deltabut you’ll see milder symptoms now, than Delta when it emerged, because many more people have immunity now.

    però, promising data from the UK’s COV-BOOST study suggests the body’s T-cell immune response after a third Covid injection will protect against hospitalisation and death from Omicron.

    The findings also support the UK’s decision to use Pfizer or Moderna as boosters, with mRNA jabs turbocharging the body’s antibody and T-cell responses the most.

    T-cells are thought to provide longer lasting and broader protection than antibodies which deliver an initial higher boost of protection but also see that defence fade faster over time.

    Professor Saul Faust, trial lead and director of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, disse: ‘Even though we don’t properly understand its relation to long-term immunity, the T cell data is showing us that it does seem to be broader against all the variant strains.’

    The provides ‘hope that a variant strain of the virus might be able to be handled, certainly for hospitalisation and death if not prevention of infection, by the current vaccines’, Professor Faust said.

    It comes as Tory Party chairman Oliver Dowden today insisted people should ‘keep calm and carry onwith their Christmas plans and parties despite Omicronbut Britain’s pubs, alberghi, restaurants and clubs already set to lose billions say ‘the damage is already doneas the cancellations continue.

    Mr Dowden told Sky News: ‘The message to people, credo, is fairly straightforwardwhich is keep calm, carry on with your Christmas plans. We’ve put the necessary restrictions in place, but beyond that keep calm and carry on.

    ‘I understand that people have concerns around the new variant. That’s why the Government has taken the sort of measures that we’ve already outlinedwe think those are sufficient at this stage and, oltre a questo, people should continue with their plans as intended.

    Amid confusion about what to do, many of Britain’s biggest employers including the NHS, banks and tech firms have axed festive bashes completely or taken them online. It is now said to be a 50/50 Diviso.

    NHS to scrap routine surgeries to hit No10’s booster deadline: Health chiefs say their ‘absolutely only optionis to cancel planned ops to deliver 50m jabs by January — with waiting list for elective care already at 6million

    The NHS is set to scrap yet more routine operations in order for staff to shift their attentions to the UK’s mammoth booster rollout, health leaders have warned.

    Boris Johnson has promised to offer all 53million eligible adults a booster Covid vaccine by the end of January to shield the nation from the incoming Omicron wave.

    But with crippling staff shortages and waiting lists already at an all-time high, health chiefs say it will come at the cost of planned operations and health scans.

    ‘The only way we will be able to meet the requirement will be to stop less essential and more routine work and I’m very reluctant to do that given the backlogs and pressures in the system,’ one NHS leader told L'indipendente.

    There are fears that delaying elective care, which includes both regular procedures — such as knee operations — and scans to screen or check for health problems such as cancer or heart disease will further exacerbate record NHS waiting lists.

    Sajid Javid has already admitted that GPsworkload will be shifted to focus on the booster campaign in a dramatic U-turn over face-to-face appointments with doctors.

    Re-prioritising the Covid vaccine over tackling the immense NHS care waiting list is a shift in focus from Mr Javid who previously said addressing the backlogs were his ‘top priorityand insisted the country ‘has to learn to live with Covid’, when he became Health Secretary in June.

    The waiting list for treatment in England already stands at nearly 6million, but a recent report warned this could more than double in four years as millions of patients return to the health service for care already delayed by the pandemic.

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