Daily COVID cases in the UK reached their highest level in nearly a year as experts warned that the Omicron variant could become the dominant strain in the UK by mid-December.
Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said at the Cobra meeting of UK leaders yesterday: “We know that the Omicron variable is doubling every two to three days in England, and possibly faster in Scotland.
We know that 30% of cases reported in London are Omicron, and of course we only identified Omicron in this country two weeks ago.
An analysis of Omicron by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also found that two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and Pfizer provided «significantly lower» levels of protection against Omicron when compared to the Delta variant.
But UKHSA said preliminary data showed the vaccine’s efficacy was «significantly increased» in the early period after a booster dose, providing 70% to 75% protection from symptomatic infection.
As of 9am yesterday, there were 58,194 laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK. The last time a higher daily figure was reported was on January 9.
An additional 448 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant were reported across the UK, bringing the total to 1,265.
A breakdown shows that 443 additional cases have been reported in England, one in Scotland and four in Wales.
No other cases have been reported in Northern Ireland.
Ireland has six confirmed cases of the Omicron variant so far.
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NI concerns about Omicron spread in Britain
In Northern Ireland, there are increasing concerns about the prevalence of the Omicron variant in Great Britain.
Despite this, there are no plans to change Northern Ireland’s Covid regulations over the Christmas period, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Gevan said yesterday But he warned that new restrictions on hospitality in Ireland could lead to more people traveling across the border.
The DUP minister said the Irish government needed to «engage and communicate properly» with the executive on changes to its regulations.
Although no restrictions are now in place, Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Michael McBride has warned that some Covid restrictions such as social distancing may need to be restarted in January.
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