UK Omicron crisis: Covid cases fall for second day in a row

UK’s Covid cases fall for SECOND day in a row: New infections drop 6% in week to 178,250 amid early signs England’s hospitalisations have peaked – as Sajid Javid says boosters cut risk of severe illness by 90% and top expert hints worst of pandemic is over

  • Two-day dip in cases puts end to nearly month of solid growth following emergence of ultra-infectious strain
  • Daily hospital admissions up for UK as a whole but down for second day in a row in England in promising sign
  • Sajid Javid reiterated how mild Omicron is to triple-vaccinated people in plea for more people to get boosted
  • Cambridge University prof said he could ‘guarantee’ UK not going to see ‘big surge in very severe outcomes’
  • Britain’s daily coronavirus cases fell for the second day in a row today and there early signs NHS admissions are peaking in England — as Sajid Javid reiterated that Omicron is up to 90 per cent less likely to cause severe illness.

    There were 178,250 new positive Covid tests across the UK over the past 24 hours, Government dashboard data shows, down 6 per cent on the figure last week.  

    The two-day dip in new infections puts an end to nearly a month of solid growth following the emergence of the ultra-infectious new variant.

    Another 229 Covid fatalities were also registered across the country today, marking a 13 per cent rise compared to last Friday. There are around seven times fewer daily Covid deaths now than during the second wave last January.

    Meanwhile, latest hospital data showed another 2,434 patients were admitted with the virus on January 3, up by more than a quarter on the week before.

    But it is not clear how many of the new admissions were primarily for Covid, and analysis of NHS stats suggests as many as 40 per cent are testing positive while in hospital for a different illness.

    And even though Covid hospitalisations are rising in the UK as a whole, appear to be flatlining in England according to the most recent data. Daily admissions there were down 10 per cent in a week on January 5, the second day in a row they had fallen.

    England’s admissions appear to be following the same trajectory as London’s, which is weeks ahead of the rest of the country and has seen hospital rates fall for the past five days.

    The promising statistics come shortly after the Health Secretary reminded the nation that boosters cut the risk of severe Omicron illness by up to 90 per cent as he issued a plea to the remaining 10million eligible Britons who have not taken up the offer of a third dose.

    But Mr Javid cautioned the NHS faces a ‘rocky’ few weeks as it wrestles with staff absences triggered by high infection rates and rising Covid admissions. 

    In another major boost, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, an eminent statistician at the University of Cambridge, suggested the worst of the pandemic was over.

    He said: ‘The big severing is between really severe outcomes and that there’s still no sign of a serious increase in intensive care, and ventilation, and in deaths. We would have expected to see that by now in London and elsewhere – so that is the really reassuring thing.

    ‘I think we can guarantee that over this wave, as we endure the next few weeks, what we’re not going to see is a big surge in very severe outcomes.’ 

    In other coronavirus developments:  

    • Nearly four in ten Covid patients in hospitals in England are not primarily being treated for the virus, according to official data that highlights the mildness of Omicron;
    • Up to one in five people in London‘s worst-hit boroughs may have had Covid on New Year’s Eve, surveillance data showed today — although infections were slowing in the capital overall;
    • Covid deaths rose for the first time since in over a month last week in England and Wales, according to official figures that show early signs of Omicron‘s impact on fatalities;
    • Washington University researchers said Omicron kills 99 per cent fewer people than Delta, as experts said the new variant is more akin to the flu;    
    • Mark Drakeford launched an astonishing tirade at Boris Johnson over Covid restrictions today as he vowed to ignore clear evidence that the worst of the Omicron wave has passed in order to keep tough restrictions in place in Wales;
    • Thousands of women may not have got their Covid vaccine because they fear it will interact with their Botox, experts say. 

    On a visit to King’s College Hospital London, Mr Javid said he wanted to thank NHS workers across the country for ‘the amazing work they’ve been doing throughout this pandemic but particularly during these current challenging times’.

    But Mr Javid also warned hospital admissions were rising and that the NHS was facing a ‘rocky few weeks ahead’.

    He said: ‘We are in a stronger position than we were last year thanks to the vaccinations and the testing, we have boosted more people in this country than in any other country in Europe, we’ve got more antivirals per head than any other country in Europe, we’re testing more people per head than any other country in Europe.’

    He added: ‘The best thing anyone can do if they haven’t already is get boosted or get your first or second jab if you haven’t had one.’

    During the visit he said the intensive care unit for Covid patients had an estimated 70% of patients unvaccinated and that this was a ‘reminder to us all’ of the importance of vaccination. 

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