Trees are up in living rooms across the country, with fridges stocked full of festive food. The nation has been without plans for several days.

Boris Johnson decided to end the celebrations, for the second time in a row. However, he said that it was impossible to rule out further actions after Christmas.

However, the Prime Minister stated that there is not sufficient evidence right now to warrant tighter controls. He also cited concerns about Omicron’s severity, uncertainties about hospitalisation rates, as well as what the effects of the vaccine rollout.

He promised to watch the data – and act if necessary.

But, so far, the public is not privy to all the details: The government has refused any information on the deaths from Omicron or about their underlying conditions, as well as whether they are currently unvaccinated.

And the issue of vaccination is critical – London is the worst hit area of the country, and it has by far the lowest vaccination rates. Coincidence?

As we approach December 25, here are some key questions

While Boris Johnson finally ruled out cancelling celebrations for the second year running last night, he cautioned: 'Naturally we can't rule out any further measures after Christmas'

Boris Johnson was finally able to rule out the cancellation of celebrations last night for the second consecutive year, but he warned that ‘Naturally, we can’t exclude any other measures after Christmas.

HOW FAST IS OMICRON SPREADING? 

It’s hard to believe, but the sudden surge of cases seems to have stalled. Today, 90,629 Covid cases were reported in the UK. This number is almost double that of two weeks ago but lower than Friday’s 93,000.

The Omicron variant rapidly became the dominant after the detection of the first Omicron cases in the UK, November 26. Cases doubled every other day.

Scientists expected this ‘eye-wateringly high’ exponential growth to continue – warning of up to one million daily infections by New Year’s Eve. New infections are stable now for almost a week.

Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) stated that Omicron waves will “peak quite quickly” because they are so contagious. Already, South Africa is seeing a drop in cases. It was quickly absorbed and is now rapidly disappearing.

Will ‘LOCKDOWN STEALTH’ SLOW SPREAD?

Last week, Professor Whitty advised the public that they should ‘think carefully” about festive socialising and to prioritize those interactions that matter most to them. Although his dire warnings prompted fury from Tory MPs, millions of Britons heeded his advice – essentially putting themselves into lockdown.

Footfall in high streets is at an all-time low of 60% according to traders. Office parties and pantomimes across the country have also been cancelled. Half of the West End theatres in London have shut down, as well as dozens of restaurants and pubs.

This has caused a “nightmare before Christmas” for hospitality companies, but it has also reduced the chances of the virus spreading.

WHY IS LONDON RATE SO Important?

Omicron took off quickly in London, and the capital’s high infections may well be linked to its low vaccination rate – one in three Londoners is completely unvaccinated, three times higher than the national average.

The infection rate in this area is double the national average at 1,455 per 100,000. The data is being closely monitored by ministers, and so far the signs have been positive. After reaching new records last week, London is seeing a dip in cases. Hospital admissions have remained low in comparison to the previous peak, while intensive care stays flat.

Today, London saw 245 admissions, as compared with the more than 600 in January. The city currently has 1,904 Covid-19 residents.

It is 41 per cent higher than last week but only a quarter the number of 7,917 reported on March 2. About half of the weekly rise is due to more “incidental” admissions by patients who have been admitted to hospital for a second illness. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a Cambridge University statistician said that it is not as dire as before in terms of speed. [of admissions].

‘Around half the extra admissions in London… had Covid anyway, which vast numbers of people in London now do, and then they found out they had Covid once they’d gone to hospital.’

Michael Bartley is a King’s College Hospital critical care matron. He stated that ’80-90%’ of Covid patients he managed were not vaccinated.

WILL HOSPITAL RATES BE LOWER FOR OMICRON? 

Paramedics take a patient to the emergency department at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London, on December 19

Paramedics take a patient to the emergency department at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London, on December 19

Yesterday’s Prime Minister highlighted “continuing uncertainty regarding the severity and hospitalization rate” However, a lower proportion of cases will require hospitalization due to vaccination than in earlier waves.

9/10 of Covid’s most seriously ill patients remain unvaccinated. The NHS has also begun to distribute antiviral medication that is expected to reduce the number of hospitalisations by thousands this winter. Omicron appears to be more severe than the previous versions, which is encouraging.

South African data suggests that patients have a 29% lower chance of ending up in the hospital, and their symptoms are also milder. South Africa’s hospital admissions are only 55% of the previous peak, even though case numbers remain similar.

WHAT IS THE NON-MEDICAL COPING ACTUALLY LIKE? 

Hospitals are struggling to eliminate the Covid backlog and record wait times for ambulances. Omicron has caused staff shortages, leaving nearly one of ten London staff isolating. London NHS Chiefs say that hospitals will be overwhelmed by rising Covid demand over the coming two-three weeks.

The number of Covid-infected patients has fallen from previous highs. The number of Covid patients currently in the UK’s hospitals is 7,801, compared with 20,000 in January and nearly 40,000 this time last. The incidence of winter flu is not as high as it was in the past, and has declined from levels that were seen during pandemics.

HOW ABOUT DEATHS

Omicron has been confirmed to have caused 14 deaths in the UK. As the vaccination rollout has saved thousands of lives and reduced weekly Covid deaths, the number of fatalities is now at a two month low. But it is still true that the effects of Omicron will be known only after several weeks. There were more than 1,000 deaths at the peak, but only 172 of the deaths occurred in the UK yesterday.

HOW WELL DOES VACCINES WORK ABOUT OMICRON 

A queue for a vaccination centre at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Tuesday

On Tuesday, there was a long line at Hampden Park, Glasgow to get vaccinated.

Although vaccine efficacy is now less effective, they still accomplish their main purpose of preventing death and hospitalisation. It is no longer sufficient to prevent infection with two doses.

Because Omicron’s spike protein has so many mutations, it is able to bypass antibodies and infect other cells. The immune system’s T cells, which kill infected cell and prevent severe illness, work perfectly.

The importance of boosters has never been greater. They top protection against infection back up to 70 per cent – and even higher for hospitalisation and death.

An astonishing 52 per cent of Britons over the age of 12 have now had three doses – making it one of the best-placed countries in the world to fend off Omicron.