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London Covid: Scientists hopeful as positive coronavirus cases in London ‘slowing down’ – but 2 weeks needed to be safe

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Leading scientists have announced that Covid-19 case rates are ‘slowing down’ in London as the ‘first ray of light’ suggests coronavirus will become easier to live with – but he says nothing is set in stone, and we’ll get a better picture of the situation in two weeks.

Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) confirmed the positive change but said scientists will need a fortnight to see if this continues.

Other parts of the UK, particularly the north-east and north-west of England, have become areas of concern as hospital admissions continue to rise.

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He told told Times Radio on Saturday: “Most other parts of the country are about two to three weeks behind where London is in their epidemic profile.

“Particularly concerning is the North East and the North West – if you look at hospital admissions in those two regions they are going up, also the Midlands, where I live, that’s also a little bit concerning, so it is a worry.

People take part in coronavirus surge testing on Clapham Common, south London. Thousands of residents have queued up to take coronavirus tests at additional facilities set up after new cases of the South African variant were found in two south London boroughs. 44 confirmed cases of the variant have been found in Lambeth and Wandsworth, with a further 30 probable cases identified. Picture date: Wednesday April 14, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

“On the slightly more positive side, so it doesn’t sound all doom and gloom, what we are seeing from hospital admissions is that stays in hospital do appear to be on average shorter, which is good news, symptoms appear to be a little bit milder, so this is what we are seeing consistently with the Omicron variant.”

Figures showed that three of the five UK areas with the biggest week-on-week rises in Covid case rates are Middlesbrough (748.8 to 2,651.4), Copeland (1,731.3 to 3,525.8) and Redcar & Cleveland (846.8 to 2,564.3).

In the Midlands, Northamptonshire leaders declared a system-wide major incident on Friday due to Covid-19.

However, Dr Tildesley is hopeful that the virus will become manageable.

He said: “The thing that might happen in the future is you may see the emergence of a new variant that is less severe, and ultimately, in the long term, what happens is Covid becomes endemic and you have a less severe version. It’s very similar to the common cold that we’ve lived with for many years.

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“We’re not quite there yet, but possibly Omicron is the first ray of light there that suggests that may happen in the longer term. It is, of course, much more transmissible than Delta was, which is concerning, but much less severe.

“Hopefully, as we move more towards the spring and we see the back of Omicron, we can get more inter-relationship of living with Covid as an endemic disease and protecting the vulnerable.

“Any variant that does emerge which is less severe, ultimately, in the longer term, is where we want to be.”

It comes as the armed forces have stepped in to fill a staffing crisis in the NHS caused by the rapid spread of the variant.

NHS England data shows 39,142 NHS staff at hospital trusts in England were absent for Covid-19 reasons on January 2, up 59 per cent on the previous week (24,632) and more than three times the number at the start of December (12,508).

According to the Health Service Journal (HSJ), staff absences across the entire NHS, including mental health trusts and other areas, for any reason including Covid-19, may be as high as 120,000.

In total, there are around 9,300 armed forces available on standby.

As well as a staffing crisis, hospitals are also facing the highest number of admissions from coronavirus since last February.

A total of 18,454 people were in hospital in the UK with Covid-19 as of January 6, Government figures show.

This is up 40 per cent week on week and is the highest number since February 18, 2021.

During the second wave of coronavirus, the number peaked at 39,254 on January 18, 2021.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/health/london-covid-scientists-hopeful-positive-22687230