Up to 4,000 Britons are catching Omicron each day: Scotland’s Covid cases DOUBLE in a week to three-month high amid fears mutant variant will become dominant in DAYS as data suggests it already makes up almost one in EIGHT new infections
- Highly-evolved virus behind 8.5% of cases across England and 13.3% in Scotland, doubling every two days
- With an average 48,000 Brits testing positive for Covid every day, it suggests more than 4,000 are Omicron
- Nicola Sturgeon today told Scots to brace for a ‘tsunami’ of infections, warning it could be dominant in ‘days’
As many as 4,000 Britons may be catching Omicron every day with the super-variant on track to replace Delta in in a matter of days, official data suggests — as the mutant pushes Scotland’s Covid cases to a three-month high.
The highly-evolved virus is now behind 8.5 per cent of coronavirus cases across England and 13.3 per cent north of the border, and is doubling every two to three days.
With an average 48,000 Britons testing positive for Covid every day, it suggests more than 4,000 of them are the new Omicron variant — even though fewer than 1,000 cases have been confirmed.
Scotland, which along with London has become one of the UK’s Omicron hotspots, today reported 5,018 positive Covid tests, which is the highest number in three months and double the number a week ago.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today told Scots to brace for a ‘tsunami’ of infections, as she warned the new super-variant posed a ‘severe challenge’.
At a press conference in Edinburgh, she said: ‘The fact is we do face a renewed and very severe challenge in the face of the new Omicron variant. To be blunt, because of the much greater and faster transmissibility of this new variant, we may be facing – indeed we may be starting to experience – a potential tsunami of infections.’
Public health chiefs expect Omicron to outstrip Delta nationally by Christmas and even sooner in the epicentre of London, with its rapid spread prompting No10 to resort to its Plan B strategy.
But Ms Sturgeon believes the variant to become dominant much more rapidly north of the border, adding: ‘I think we can now say with some confidence that we expect it to overtake Delta within days, not weeks – we estimate this could be as early as the very beginning of next week.’
Public Health Scotland projections estimate that Omicron will be dominant by Tuesday and will make up virtually every infection by December 20.
A senior member of the Government’s scientific advisory group SAGE yesterday warned that Omicron was spreading even faster in the UK than it is in South Africa — where cases have rocketed 10-fold in a fortnight.
Confidential UK Health Security Agency data showed that Omicron may now be behind 8.5 per cent of infections. The figures are based on the proportion of PCR tests failing to detect a specific gene, an early indicator of the variant. PCRs look for three genes to confirm a Covid infection, but with Omicron one is so mutated that they only pick up two of them. The analysis was done by Professor Alastair Grant, a Covid modeller at the University of East Anglia, who has access to the secret statistics
Scotland, which along with London has become one of the UK’s Omicron hotspots, today reported 5,018 positive Covid tests, which is the highest number in three months and double the number a week ago. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today told Scots to brace for a ‘tsunami’ of infections, as she warned the new super-variant posed a ‘severe challenge’
The UK Government hopes Plan B restrictions will be enough to slow the spread of the mutant strain, buying the NHS precious time to dish out millions more booster jabs.
The first part of Boris Johnson’s Plan B came into force in England today, with the introduction of compulsory face masks in indoor settings such as theatres, cinemas and churches.
New work-from-home guidance will come into effect on Monday, and MPs will vote the next day on the introduction of vaccine passports for nightclubs and large venues.