Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said there are ‘cases in hospital with Omicron’ after Boris Johnson implemented a raft of Plan B restrictions in a bid to tackle the new Covid variant
Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)
Some Brits who have the Omicron coronavirus strain are already in hospital, with the variant now responsible for a third of all London cases.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi confirmed that there are “cases in hospital with Omicron” and warned that tens of thousands of Brits could end up hospitalised.
The Cabinet member said cases could spiral out of control if – as predicted – Omicron infections reach one million by the end of the month.
It comes after the UK recorded its highest number of daily Covid infections since January on Friday.
Mr Zahawi told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “One third of infections now in London are Omicron.
“We think that obviously the reported tests are indicating about 1,600 cases but of course the number of cases in the community would be a multiple of that, ten times that.
“We know that it is highly infectious so the doubling rate is between two and three days. So very quickly, Omicron will begin to be the dominant variant in the UK and in the world.
“We’ve seen this movie before. We’ve seen it with the Kent variant, with Delta.
“Let’s do a mathematic exercise for a second. You get to a million infections by say the end of December – 1% is 10,000 severe infections that could be in hospital.
“Three days later it is two million, three days later it is four million. Three days beyond that it is eight million.
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“That is the risk, that even if it is milder, say 50% milder than Delta, then the numbers are huge – it is a small percentage of a very large population.
“That is the big difference. The reason we are taking these proportionate, I think precautionary measures – the most significant thing, scientists tell us, is the work from home, that has the greatest impact on slowing down Omicron, hence why we’ve had to take these measures.”
Meanwhile, asked whether there were plans to vaccinate primary school children, the former vaccines minister added: “There is no plan at the moment to vaccinate primary school children for the reason that the Joint Committee on Vaccination (and Immunisation, JCVI) is still looking at the evidence as to what level of protection it would offer those.”
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He added: “The most important thing is to boost the most vulnerable – that is absolutely the priority.”
Mr Zahawi’s comments come after daily Covid infections hit 58,194 on Friday – the highest level since January and a 15% rise on the same day last week.
Boris Johnson has implemented Plan B restrictions in a bid to tackle the Omicron variant, which is fuelling the spike in cases.
The new rules made masks mandatory in most public indoor spaces and the NHS Covid Pass required for entry into nightclubs and venues with large crowds.
Officials are now said to be drawing up a ‘Plan C’ – and an even more draconian ‘Plan D’ – which can be introduced if the current measures are not sufficient.
Under Plan D, hospitality firms would only be allowed to serve outdoors, with this developing into a complete closure if infections continue to rise.
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Officially at this stage is no Plan C, however reports suggest it could bring back the NHS Covid app check-in for people going to pubs and restaurants.
Face masks could also become compulsory in all indoor spaces and vaccine passports may be mandatory for more venues.
People would also have to self-isolate for 10 days after coming into contact with an infected person.
Currently, anyone who is double-jabbed in England only has to self-isolate if they have come into contact with someone who is a confirmed of suspected Omicron case.
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