Stabroek News Sunday

Omicron coronaviru­s cases surge in UK, scientists see bigger wave


LONDON, (Reuters) - Britain reported a surge in cases of the Omicron coronaviru­s variant yesterday which government advisors said could be just the tip of the iceberg, and London’s mayor declared a “major incident” to help the city’s hospitals cope.

The number of Omicron cases recorded across the country hit almost 25,000 as of 1800 GMT on Friday, up by more than 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Seven people believed to have had the Omicron variant had died as of Thursday, up from one death in the UKHSA’s previous data which ran up to Tuesday. Admissions to hospital of people thought to have the variant increased to 85 from 65.

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencie­s (SAGE) said it was “almost certain” that hundreds of thousands of people were being infected with the variant every day and were not being picked up in the figures.

SAGE said without a further tightening of COVID-19 rules, “modelling indicates a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England,” they said in minutes of a meeting on Dec. 16.

Last January, before Britain’s vaccinatio­n campaign gathered speed, daily hospital admissions in the United Kingdom as a whole surged above 4,000.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced a rebellion in his governing Conservati­ve Party over some of the measures he has taken so far to try to curb COVID-19’s latest spread. A newspaper said on Saturday that Johnson’s Brexit minister, David Frost, had resigned in part because of the new rules.

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