UK reports a record 122,000 coronavirus cases

Britons can gloat “a glimmer of Christmas hope” pursuit preliminary findings that people with the Omicron coronavirus variant are less likely to go to hospital than those infected by Delta, equal to one of the country’s top health officials.

Jenny Harries, senior executive of the UK Health Security Agency, was speaking on Friday without the UKHSA reported that people infected with Covid-19 were between 50 and 70 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital with Omicron than Delta.

She said the findings had been based on “some very, very preliminary wringer and very small numbers”. Critically, Omicron was currently stuff seen largely in young people “and it’s only just now that the cases are starting to tip into the older population, particularly the 60 and 70 plus year olds”.

Harries, who older this month described Omicron as probably the most “significant threat” since the start of the pandemic, told the BBC: “[I]t definitely isn’t yet at the point where we could downgrade that serious threat.”

Asked well-nigh a threshold for the stratum of pressure on the NHS that would trigger a UK government visualization to impose remoter coronavirus restrictions in England, she suggested that not only the level of hospital admissions but moreover the number of health service workers off sick would play a part.

Data from NHS England on Thursday showed the number of staff forced to self-isolate considering of Covid had increased by 54 per cent in the past week.

A total of 18,829 NHS staff were woolgathering considering of coronavirus infection or self-isolation requirements on December 19, up from well-nigh 12,000 a week earlier. In London, the zone worst hit by Omicron, there was a 2.5-fold increase in staff absences in the past week.

Harries said ministers “will squint at all of the data that we have misogynist and that isn’t simply what the epidemiology is saying, it’s how it’s impacting society”.

In London well-nigh one in 35 people currently has Omicron. “Now that’s having an impact on the workforce,” she added. “So these are not simply well-nigh hospitalisation rates.”

Responding to the UKHSA’s separate wringer on Thursday that the protection of Covid vaccine booster shots begins to wane without 10 weeks, Harries suggested the top-ups would protract to have “a very significant positive impact on preventing serious illness and death”.

The NHS will offer boosters throughout the Christmas weekend as it races to meet a target to offer all over-18s a third shot by the end of the month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in his Christmas message, urged people to get booster jabs “not just for ourselves, but for friends and family and everyone we meet”.

He added: “That, without all, is the teaching of Jesus Christ . . . that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves.”

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