Omicron variant news – UK cases could surge to 15,000 per day in peak as Covid strain spreads through Europe

THE number of Covid-19 cases could surge to 15,000 a day after Christmas if the Omicron variant becomes dominant, health experts have warned.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said that the new variant could drive up cases during increased social activity over the Christmas period.

In a letter to Government, Nphet said that higher levels of socialisation combined with the impact of Omicron could pose a “very real but as yet unquantifiable risk” to the management of Covid-19 over the coming weeks.

Health officials warned Government that this presents “serious challenges” in the weeks ahead, adding that it is “impossible” to quantify the level of risk and its impact.

Read our Omicron live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    2,000 Sun readers sign up for Jabs Army

    2,000 Sun readers have already signed up for our brilliant Jabs Army.

    But we need to recruit at least 25,000 steward volunteers to make sure everyone gets a booster jab to protect against the new Omicron variant of Covid.

    Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, who has backed our campaign from day one, last night urged Sun readers to get involved.

    He said: “The Jabs Army Voluntary Service needs a shot in the arm. Help boost the boosters.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    Can I still have the Covid booster if I have a cold?

    The short answer is yes.

    If you are certain it is not Covid you are suffering with and you are well enough to leave home, you can get your third shot with confidence.

    It might make you feel a bit rougher than if you weren’t ill, but overall it’s perfectly safe – and you can emerge from your sickly funk safe in the knowledge you are protected against coronavirus.

    A cold shouldn’t have an effect on your body’s ability to build an immune response to the flu, even though it is fighting an illness.

    NHS guidance says you should still attend your appointment even if you have a mild illness, including a common cold.

  • Joseph Gamp

    ‘I caught Omicron variant in LONDON around the same time it was discovered in South Africa’, doctor claims

    A doctor who was one of the world’s first people to be infected with the Omicron Covid variant believes he caught it in London, it was reported.

    Elad Maor was in the UK for a conference for three days until November 23, around the time the more virulent strain was detected by researchers in South Africa.

    The 45-year-old Israeli cardiologist stayed for four nights at a hotel in Islington and experienced symptoms after returning home, then tested positive on November 27.

    “I got the Omicron in London, for sure,” he told The Guardian.

    “That is interesting because that was 10 days ago in London – really, really early.”

    The father-of-three explained he took a PCR test on November 20 after arriving in the UK and again the next day, in accordance with Israeli travel regulations, with both results negative.

    When he arrived back in Tel Aviv on November 24, he had a third PCR test, which also came back negative.

    He said the only reasonable explanation is that he got infected on the last day of the meeting or possibly at the airport because the third PCR was too early to detect the infection.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Zimbabwe identifies 50 cases of Omicron

    Zimbabwe has identified 50 cases of the Omicron variant, deputy health minister John Mangwiro said on Friday.

    It comes as the government announced it would start offering booster shots to frontline workers, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.

    Most of the Omicron cases were detected at a teacher training college as well as the country's under-17 football team that was due to participate at a regional tournament, Mangwiro told reporters.

    "From the outbreak that we detected from Masvingo Teachers College and the Under 17 soccer team, we took 20 samples from the college and 22 samples from the soccer team, they all tested positive for the Omicron variant," he said, adding that the other 8 cases were found in random samples. 

  • Joseph Gamp

    Cases could surge to 15,000 per day if Omicron becomes dominant

    The number of Covid-19 cases could surge to 15,000 a day after Christmas if the Omicron variant becomes dominant, health experts have warned.

    The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said that the new variant could drive up cases during increased social activity over the Christmas period.

    In a letter to Government, Nphet said that higher levels of socialisation combined with the impact of Omicron could pose a "very real but as yet unquantifiable risk" to the management of Covid-19 over the coming weeks.

    Health officials warned Government that this presents "serious challenges" in the weeks ahead, adding that it is "impossible" to quantify the level of risk and its impact.

    Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has urged the Government to close all nightclubs, and bring in restrictions that were in place during the summer.

    This includes returning to table service only in hospitality, a maximum of six people allowed per table, no multiple table bookings and no mingling between tables.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Red Cross says Omicron 'ultimate evidence' of danger from vaccine inequality

    The emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is the "ultimate evidence" of the danger of unequal vaccination rates around the world, the head of the Red Cross said on Friday.

    "The scientific community has warned the international community on several occasions about the risks of very new variants in places where there is a very low rate of vaccinations," Francesco Rocca, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told AFP in an interview in Moscow.

  • Louis Allwood

    Latest Government Covid figures released

    The Government said as of 9am on Friday, there had been a further 50,584 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK.

    The Government also said a further 143 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday.

    Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 170,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

  • Louis Allwood

    Scotland: Omicron cases rise to 29

    Omicron cases in Scotland have jumped by 16 in the past 24 hours to 29, with a Steps concert among the sources.

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned they may rise “significantly” in the coming days as the variant is now circulating in the community.

    The update comes as Scotland recorded 16 coronavirus-linked deaths and 2,432 new cases in the past 24 hours.

    Previously, nine Omicron cases were linked to a single private event, but the First Minister said there are now several different sources of infections of the new variant, including a Steps concert at the Hydro in Glasgow on Monday November 22.

    Six cases are understood to be linked to this event, but the risk to attendees is said to be low.

  • Louis Allwood

    New fears your kids may be at greater risk of Omicron

    THERE are fears the Omicron variant is more severe in children than previous strains of the coronavirus.

    Hospital admissions in children under five have suprisingly surged in South Africa, where the concerning variant is now dominating, doctors say.

    Graphs show the youngest children are being admitted in rates second only to those who are over 60.

    Wassila Jassat, from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, told a news conference: "We've seen quite a sharp increase across all age groups, particularly in the under fives," referring to hospitalisations.

    "The incidence in those under fives is now second-highest, and second only to the incidence in those over 60.”

  • Louis Allwood

    Brits down tools and walk on water

    This is a comment piece by Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive, Royal Voluntary Service

    SUN readers are amazing – they walk on water!

    Next week it will be one year since 91-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person in Britain to be given the Covid jab.

    That was to be the start of the biggest vaccination rollout in history.

    To make sure everybody in the country received a jab, the Royal Voluntary Service was asked to find 50,000 volunteers to help out.

    So we turned to The Sun for help and didn’t know what to expect.

    But within weeks the Jabs Army had passed the 50,000 target and eventually nearly 70,000 of you stepped up.

    The gift of your time really does make a difference.

    Sun readers have already given up 1.1million hours to volunteer at jab centres.

  • Louis Allwood

    Over 2,000 Sun readers sign up for Jabs Army

    2,000 Sun readers have already signed up for our brilliant Jabs Army.

    But we need to recruit at least 25,000 steward volunteers to make sure everyone gets a booster jab to protect against the new Omicron variant of Covid.

    Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, who has backed our campaign from day one, last night urged Sun readers to get involved.

    He said: “The Jabs Army Voluntary Service needs a shot in the arm. Help boost the boosters.”

  • Louis Allwood

    Brits should quarantine after travel for FIVE days

    Government scientists have called for people arriving in the UK to quarantine for five days and take a pre-departure PCR test to curb the spread of Omicron.

    SAGE experts warned of a potentially “very significant wave” as new measures to tackle the new Covid variant were introduced.

    Close contacts of anyone infected with Omicron must quarantine at home for 10 days, with flouters risking a £10,000 fine, with the new rule also applying to anyone who's had two jabs.

    Mandatory face coverings have been reintroduced in shops and on public transport.

    And travel rules have been beefed up with anyone double jabbed arriving in the UK having to isolate until they receive a negative Covid test result within two days.

    Anyone who is not double jabbed can choose to pay for a second Covid test on day five to release them from a ten-day quarantine period.

    But in leaked minutes from an emergency meeting about Omicron, SAGE boffins say anybody who has returned to the UK should self-isolate for five days instead.

  • Louis Allwood

    ‘I caught Omicron variant in LONDON around the same time it was discovered in South Africa’, doctor claims

    A doctor who was one of the world’s first people to be infected with the Omicron Covid variant believes he caught it in London, it was reported.

    Elad Maor was in the UK for a conference for three days until November 23, around the time the more virulent strain was detected by researchers in South Africa.

    The 45-year-old Israeli cardiologist stayed for four nights at a hotel in Islington and experienced symptoms after returning home, then tested positive on November 27.

    “I got the Omicron in London, for sure,” he told The Guardian.

    “That is interesting because that was 10 days ago in London – really, really early.”

    The father-of-three explained he took a PCR test on November 20 after arriving in the UK and again the next day, in accordance with Israeli travel regulations, with both results negative.

    When he arrived back in Tel Aviv on November 24, he had a third PCR test, which also came back negative.

    He said the only reasonable explanation is that he got infected on the last day of the meeting or possibly at the airport because the third PCR was too early to detect the infection.

  • Louis Allwood

    What are Omicron’s mutations?

    Of the 50 or so mutations, 32 are in the spike gene, including what’s called the binding domain.

    These are most likely to change how the virus interacts with the antibodies of the immune system, and how it enters human cells.

    The spike protein is a vital part of the virus that allows it to latch onto cells.

    It is also the target of Covid vaccines that were built against the original “Wuhan” strain of the coronavirus. Therefore, if the spike protein is drastically different, antibodies may fail to recognise Omicron.

    Raquel Viana, Head of Science at one of South Africa's biggest private testing labs, said she had "a sinking feeling" when she discovered the new strain while genetically testing positive swabs in the country.

    She told Reuters: "I was quite shocked at what I was seeing. I questioned whether something had gone wrong in the process."

  • Louis Allwood

    Shocking graphic of Omicron reveals WHY scientists are so worried

    Images show how drastically mutated the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is. 

    Illustrations from the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) reveal the sheer number of changes on the virus's genetic makeup.

    Scientists have warned the Omicron variant has the most mutations they have ever seen.

  • Louis Allwood

    What are mutations?

    Mutations are changes in the virus that may, or may not, give the virus extra abilities, such as to spread faster.

    With so many mutations, it raises the possibilities that Omicron has a number of advantages above previous versions of Covid.

    The most concerning is that it will weaken the efficacy of our vaccines, which scientists will not know for certain for another couple of weeks. 

    Experts fear it could make the vaccines 40 per cent less effective in a best-case scenario, based on comparison with the Beta variant.

  • Louis Allwood

    Brits are urged to GO to the pub for Christmas

    Those wanting to should carry on going to the pub and holding Christmas parties despite the threat from the Omicron variant, a top minister said today.

    Tory chief Oliver Dowden insisted people must "keep calm and carry on" and it's even all right to snog strangers under the Mistletoe.

    His upbeat assessment comes after days of mixed messages from senior ministers over how cautious we should be this festive season.

    Even as he urged Brits not to cancel their seasonal drinks it emerged Government departments are moving their own bashes online.

    Business minister George Freeman revealed staff at his office will now have to celebrate on Zoom after its annual shindig was shelved.

    The department for education has canned plans for its annual talent show to go ahead in person, and it will now be video streamed instead.

  • Louis Allwood

    The 176 places where Covid cases are still rising

    Cases per 100,000 in the seven days up to November 28. The figure on the RIGHT shows infections, also per 100,000, in the seven days up to November 21.

    1. Torridge, South-west England, 1056.5, (726), 1047.7, (720)
    2. Waverley, South-east England, 778.3, (985), 671.6, (850)
    3. Eastbourne, South-east England, 762.6, (788), 622.3, (643)
    4. Tandridge, South-east England, 754.4, (668), 744.3, (659)
    5. Hastings, South-east England, 748.8, (693), 656.9, (608)
    6. Ashford, South-east England, 744.2, (975), 480.1, (629)
    7. Mole Valley, South-east England, 725.3, (635), 635.1, (556)
    8. Spelthorne, South-east England, 721.9, (721), 583.7, (583)
    9. Test Valley, South-east England, 717.2, (912), 684.9, (871)
    10. Eastleigh, South-east England, 710.6, (963), 678.1, (919)
    11. Lewes, South-east England, 702.2, (727), 586.3, (607)
    12. Antrim and Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, 695.6, (1000), 686.6, (987)
    13. Crawley, South-east England, 692.6, (779), 647.3, (728)
    14. Melton, East Midlands, 690.7, (355), 646.0, (332)
    15. Rutland, East Midlands, 689.3, (279), 610.2, (247)
    16. Maldon, Eastern England, 681.9, (446), 538.2, (352)
    17. Newry Mourne and Down, Northern Ireland, 680.4, (1236), 580.7, (1055)
    18. Wokingham, South-east England, 680.1, (1183), 538.1, (936)
    19. Plymouth, South-west England, 676.1, (1777), 594.3, (1562)
    20. Reigate and Banstead, South-east England, 666.7, (995), 630.5, (941)
    21. Arun, South-east England, 661.6, (1066), 651.1, (1049)
    22. Richmond upon Thames, London, 660.6, (1309), 578.4, (1146)
    23. Cherwell, South-east England, 659.2, (1001), 584.8, (888)
    24. Surrey Heath, South-east England, 659.2, (588), 550.4, (491)
    25. Tunbridge Wells, South-east England, 655.8, (780), 555.7, (661)
    26. South Oxfordshire, South-east England, 649.6, (934), 531.4, (764)
    27. Hart, South-east England, 646.5, (631), 473.3, (462)
    28. Torbay, South-west England, 643.8, (877), 620.3, (845)
    29. Wealden, South-east England, 640.3, (1042), 546.9, (890)
    30. South Hams, South-west England, 626.5, (551), 594.7, (523)
    31. Gloucester, South-west England, 622.2, (807), 572.8, (743)
    32. Chichester, South-east England, 621.4, (755), 493.0, (599)
    33. Rushmoor, South-east England, 617.7, (583), 576.4, (544)
    34. Corby, East Midlands, 616.0, (450), 559.9, (409)
    35. South Northamptonshire, East Midlands, 615.8, (588), 519.4, (496)
    36. Ards and North Down, Northern Ireland, 613.4, (994), 604.7, (980)
    37. Worcester, West Midlands, 611.4, (613), 595.4, (597)
    38. Southend-on-Sea, Eastern England, 611.1, (1117), 512.7, (937)
    39. Isle of Anglesey, Wales, 610.4, (430), 504.0, (355)
    40. Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole, South-west England, 610.3, (2423), 601.0, (2386)
    41. Basildon, Eastern England, 609.4, (1143), 492.6, (924)
    42. South Cambridgeshire, Eastern England, 607.8, (978), 564.9, (909)
    43. Telford and Wrekin, West Midlands, 601.7, (1091), 599.5, (1087)
    44. Gedling, East Midlands, 597.1, (706), 428.8, (507)
    45. Stevenage, Eastern England, 597.0, (526), 514.2, (453)
    46. Falkirk, Scotland, 595.4, (956), 548.1, (880)
    47. Rother, South-east England, 594.5, (575), 465.3, (450)
    48. Woking, South-east England, 594.0, (594), 545.0, (545)
    49. Castle Point, Eastern England, 593.2, (537), 483.8, (438)
    50. Fareham, South-east England, 593.1, (690), 567.3, (660)
    51. Havant, South-east England, 592.8, (749), 490.0, (619)
    52. Central Bedfordshire, Eastern England, 591.0, (1738), 499.2, (1468)
    53. Windsor and Maidenhead, South-east England, 589.7, (892), 569.8, (862)
    54. Brentwood, Eastern England, 587.8, (454), 432.4, (334)
    55. Winchester, South-east England, 582.1, (733), 441.5, (556)
    56. Kettering, East Midlands, 580.2, (593), 513.6, (525)
    57. Sevenoaks, South-east England, 575.0, (698), 528.1, (641)
    58. Portsmouth, South-east England, 574.3, (1233), 497.9, (1069)
    59. West Oxfordshire, South-east England, 573.6, (641), 495.7, (554)
    60. Milton Keynes, South-east England, 570.7, (1542), 463.0, (1251)
    61. Tonbridge and Malling, South-east England, 567.2, (752), 469.9, (623)
    62. Reading, South-east England, 566.9, (909), 481.5, (772)
    63. Buckinghamshire, South-east England, 565.8, (3095), 545.1, (2982)
    64. Huntingdonshire, Eastern England, 565.4, (1012), 511.2, (915)
    65. Epsom and Ewell, South-east England, 562.9, (456), 456.8, (370)
    66. Mendip, South-west England, 560.7, (652), 541.8, (630)
    67. Thurrock, Eastern England, 558.9, (981), 487.1, (855)
    68. Exeter, South-west England, 555.8, (741), 525.0, (700)
    69. Swale, South-east England, 554.9, (838), 517.8, (782)
    70. Rochford, Eastern England, 553.5, (485), 497.6, (436)
    71. Braintree, Eastern England, 552.0, (845), 502.3, (769)
    72. Vale of White Horse, South-east England, 551.1, (760), 459.0, (633)
    73. New Forest, South-east England, 548.8, (986), 529.9, (952)
    74. Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon, Northern Ireland, 546.9, (1188), 517.4, (1124)
    75. East Northamptonshire, East Midlands, 544.7, (518), 445.8, (424)
    76. Medway, South-east England, 543.1, (1516), 470.7, (1314)
    77. Wellingborough, East Midlands, 542.0, (434), 493.3, (395)
    78. Stratford-on-Avon, West Midlands, 540.8, (716), 466.8, (618)
    79. Cambridge, Eastern England, 536.5, (671), 435.0, (544)
    80. Brighton and Hove, South-east England, 535.1, (1561), 477.8, (1394)
    81. Maidstone, South-east England, 532.0, (921), 513.5, (889)
    82. Colchester, Eastern England, 530.9, (1047), 524.3, (1034)
    83. South Somerset, South-west England, 529.9, (894), 460.0, (776)
    84. West Devon, South-west England, 529.0, (297), 484.5, (272)
    85. Sutton, London, 526.2, (1093), 438.6, (911)
    86. Erewash, East Midlands, 522.8, (603), 445.7, (514)
    87. Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, South-west England, 518.3, (2983), 469.1, (2700)
    88. St Albans, Eastern England, 517.7, (773), 462.8, (691)
    89. Runnymede, South-east England, 515.9, (466), 466.1, (421)
    90. Kingston upon Thames, London, 514.1, (921), 440.4, (789)
    91. Gravesham, South-east England, 508.0, (543), 459.4, (491)
    92. Canterbury, South-east England, 501.3, (836), 404.8, (675)
    93. Torfaen, Wales, 492.4, (467), 477.7, (453)
    94. Wandsworth, London, 491.6, (1621), 414.3, (1366)
    95. Flintshire, Wales, 487.1, (764), 485.8, (762)
    96. Thanet, South-east England, 486.4, (688), 439.7, (622)
    97. Dover, South-east England, 481.0, (570), 452.3, (536)
    98. Newport, Wales, 480.7, (752), 427.0, (668)
    99. Tendring, Eastern England, 477.1, (703), 418.7, (617)
    100. Merton, London, 476.1, (983), 410.7, (848)
    101. Chesterfield, East Midlands, 473.6, (497), 428.9, (450)
    102. Craven, Yorkshire & the Humber, 470.9, (270), 343.6, (197)
    103. Broxtowe, East Midlands, 469.3, (538), 422.2, (484)
    104. Warrington, North-west England, 463.7, (971), 398.3, (834)
    105. North Kesteven, East Midlands, 461.3, (545), 458.7, (542)
    106. Bromley, London, 461.0, (1534), 393.1, (1308)
    107. Basingstoke and Deane, South-east England, 460.2, (818), 418.0, (743)
    108. South Staffordshire, West Midlands, 456.5, (513), 423.6, (476)
    109. North West Leicestershire, East Midlands, 455.1, (477), 426.5, (447)
    110. Bridgend, Wales, 454.8, (671), 435.8, (643)
    111. Luton, Eastern England, 453.3, (968), 424.8, (907)
    112. Solihull, West Midlands, 451.1, (981), 413.4, (899)
    113. Hertsmere, Eastern England, 450.4, (475), 398.2, (420)
    114. Peterborough, Eastern England, 449.6, (911), 447.1, (906)
    115. Dartford, South-east England, 445.4, (508), 359.5, (410)
    116. Epping Forest, Eastern England, 444.1, (587), 383.6, (507)
    117. Hammersmith and Fulham, London, 442.9, (813), 356.9, (655)
    118. Babergh, Eastern England, 442.1, (410), 347.2, (322)
    119. Adur, South-east England, 439.3, (282), 361.4, (232)
    120. Folkestone and Hythe, South-east England, 434.2, (492), 371.5, (421)
    121. Trafford, North-west England, 433.5, (1030), 399.4, (949)
    122. Hounslow, London, 432.0, (1174), 394.8, (1073)
    123. North Somerset, South-west England, 431.9, (931), 406.8, (877)
    124. Sedgemoor, South-west England, 431.8, (533), 431.0, (532)
    125. Havering, London, 431.6, (1125), 386.3, (1007)
    126. East Ayrshire, Scotland, 430.9, (524), 356.1, (433)
    127. Gateshead, North-east England, 425.8, (860), 410.0, (828)
    128. Kensington and Chelsea, London, 423.3, (664), 343.6, (539)
    129. Blaenau Gwent, Wales, 418.5, (293), 415.6, (291)
    130. Northampton, East Midlands, 418.2, (938), 381.6, (856)
    131. North East Derbyshire, East Midlands, 417.7, (427), 416.8, (426)
    132. Mansfield, East Midlands, 412.4, (451), 368.5, (403)
    133. Bexley, London, 409.5, (1021), 361.4, (901)
    134. King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Eastern England, 407.3, (616), 394.7, (597)
    135. Warwick, West Midlands, 404.4, (586), 387.1, (561)
    136. Waltham Forest, London, 404.1, (1119), 327.1, (906)
    137. Ealing, London, 402.2, (1369), 393.7, (1340)
    138. Derbyshire Dales, East Midlands, 401.8, (291), 363.1, (263)
    139. Knowsley, North-west England, 401.4, (612), 371.9, (567)
    140. Broxbourne, Eastern England, 397.6, (388), 350.4, (342)
    141. Derby, East Midlands, 393.7, (1011), 391.7, (1006)
    142. Boston, East Midlands, 392.5, (278), 391.0, (277)
    143. Redcar and Cleveland, North-east England, 391.3, (537), 386.9, (531)
    144. Barnet, London, 383.5, (1530), 365.2, (1457)
    145. Newcastle upon Tyne, North-east England, 382.6, (1174), 335.0, (1028)
    146. Stockport, North-west England, 374.2, (1101), 369.1, (1086)
    147. Hillingdon, London, 370.9, (1146), 360.2, (1113)
    148. Croydon, London, 370.6, (1440), 303.4, (1179)
    149. Mid Suffolk, Eastern England, 365.3, (383), 361.4, (379)
    150. Great Yarmouth, Eastern England, 363.9, (361), 297.4, (295)
    151. West Lothian, Scotland, 359.6, (661), 353.6, (650)
    152. Lambeth, London, 358.6, (1154), 289.9, (933)
    153. Nottingham, East Midlands, 358.4, (1208), 337.3, (1137)
    154. Haringey, London, 355.9, (948), 329.6, (878)
    155. Redbridge, London, 349.1, (1067), 307.9, (941)
    156. North Norfolk, Eastern England, 345.2, (363), 317.6, (334)
    157. Lewisham, London, 342.9, (1047), 285.0, (870)
    158. Harrow, London, 339.2, (856), 311.5, (786)
    159. Liverpool, North-west England, 337.5, (1689), 319.1, (1597)
    160. Greenwich, London, 333.5, (964), 283.0, (818)
    161. IBrent, London, 332.3, (1089), 287.7, (943)
    162. Fenland, Eastern England, 330.1, (337), 327.2, (334)
    163. Southwark, London, 323.7, (1036), 237.5, (760)
    164. City of Edinburgh, Scotland, 316.5, (1670), 313.1, (1652)
    165. Oldham, North-west England, 315.2, (749), 292.5, (695)
    166. Enfield, London, 304.0, (1014), 259.0, (864)
    167. East Lindsey, East Midlands, 292.2, (415), 285.9, (406)
    168. Hackney and City of London, London, 291.9, (852), 288.8, (843)
    169. Tower Hamlets, London, 288.6, (958), 237.7, (789)
    170. Barking and Dagenham, London, 287.7, (616), 242.9, (520)
    171. Islington, London, 285.8, (709), 271.6, (674)
    172. Camden, London, 280.8, (785), 264.7, (740)
    173. Westminster, London, 277.9, (750), 247.5, (668)
    174. Calderdale, Yorkshire & the Humber, 275.7, (583), 251.6, (532)
    175. Newham, London, 254.2, (903), 223.8, (795)
    176. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scotland, 181.1, (48), 132.1, (35)
  • Louis Allwood

    Confusion over symptoms

    The new variant Omicron has sparked greater confusion with new symptoms for the new covid strain.

    The doctor who first sounded the alarm about Omicron said this was the reason she initially pushed for testing for a new strain, wondering why young men that came to the clinic did not have the classic signs of Covid.

    Dr Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of the South African Medical Association, suggests the main symptoms of Omicron are:

    • Fatigue
    • Body aches 
    • Headache

    Cases rise as Brits urged to get booster

    The government has urged Brits to come forward for their booster vaccines in a bid to combat the variant.

    It was last night revealed that Covid booster jabs will protect against Omicron.

    New data vindicates the UK’s decision to offer Pfizer or Moderna as a third shot.

    In a trial of seven boosters, the two mRNA jabs came out on top – triggering the biggest rise in Covid antibodies.

    Volunteers experienced an up to 32 times spike in levels of the protective proteins.

    Experts also observed patients given Pfizer or Modern experienced a sharp rise in T-cells, which also fight off the virus, by killing cells infected with Covid.

    More than quarter of care home residents yet to receive booster

    Over a quarter of care home residents haven't yet had a booster jab amid fears of an Omicron surge, new data showed.

    NHS England figures show just 72 per cent of residents have had a third jab despite being some of the most vulnerable in the UK.

    Boris Johnson claimed on November 15 that 80 percent of care home residents had received three vaccine injections.

    But charities and care providers questioned that figure and fear younger age groups are now being prioritised.

    The rollout of third jabs was extended to all over-18s this week after being opened to over-40s on November 15, with the time between a second and third jab slashed from six months to three.

    • Louis Allwood

      Christmas parties can go ahead

      The PM was last night scrambling to save Christmas and end days of Cabinet squabbling over new Omicron rules.

      He slapped down a slew of his ministers who had suggested there could be no snogging or big parties in a series of rogue diktats.

      The PM, 57, who got his booster jab yesterday, insisted there was no need to cancel gatherings, family meet-ups or nativity plays over fears of the new variant.

      He begged confused Brits not to panic as he sought to calm the chaos by saying of the tougher restrictions claims: “There’s no need for that at all. That’s not what we are saying.

      “Please, we’ve got to take a balanced and proportionate approach to this. We want people to continue as they are.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Booster jabs (Continued…)

      Lead researcher Professor Saul Faust, from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the broad immune response means boosters will likely cope well with Omicron.

      He said: “Our hope as scientists is that protection against hospitalisation and death will remain intact.

      “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.”

    • Louis Allwood

      Covid booster jabs will PROTECT against Omicron

      The new booster jabs should be enough to protect Brits from falling seriously unwell from the Omicron variant, top scientists claim.

      New data vindicates the UK’s decision to offer Pfizer or Moderna as a third shot.

      In a trial of seven boosters, the two mRNA jabs came out on top – triggering the biggest rise in Covid antibodies.

      Volunteers experienced an up to 32 times spike in levels of the protective proteins.

      Experts also observed patients given Pfizer or Modern experienced a sharp rise in T-cells, which also fight off the virus, by killing cells infected with Covid.

    • Joseph Gamp

      New rapid test 'identifies antibody effectiveness against Covid variants'

      Researchers have created a rapid test that they say can identify antibody effectiveness against Covid-19 variants.

      The test can quickly and easily assess how well someone's antibodies fight infection from multiple variants of coronavirus, such as Delta and the newly discovered Omicron variant, a new study suggests.

      Scientists say the test could potentially tell doctors how protected a patient is from new variants and those currently circulating in a community.

      It could also help doctors identify which monoclonal antibodies to treat a Covid patient with.

      Cameron Wolfe, associate professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine, in the US, said: "We currently really have no rapid way of assessing variants, neither their presence in an individual nor the ability of antibodies we possess to make a difference.

      "It's one of the lingering fears that, as we successfully vaccinate more and more people, a variant may emerge that more radically evades vaccine-induced antibody neutralisation.

      "And if that fear came true, if Omicron turned out to be a worst-case scenario, how would we know quickly enough?"

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