According to official data, seven times less Covid “cases” are currently being admitted to hospital in the United States than during England’s second devastating wave.

Advisors from No10 worried that an ultra-infectious virus could infect the NHS. Boris Johnson was urged to move more restrictive restrictions.

There is now mounting evidence that this strain does not cause severe illness, and the PM used it to defend his refusal to increase curbs.  

MailOnline’s analysis and comparison of data from the UK Health Security Agency, (UKHSA), adds to the list of statistics suggesting that the days when the UK recorded several hundred deaths per day may be ‘history.

Now, the proportion of Covid patients ending up in hospital one week later is just 1.5%, as opposed to the 10.9 percent during the Delta crisis. 

Experts told MailOnline immunity from vaccination and prior infection means ‘what we’re seeing this winter is a very different picture’ — but warned hospitalisations and deaths could still tick upwards in the coming weeks. 

Separate figures reveal that five times as many Covid-infected people are now connected to ventilators than in the darkest days of fighting Delta. And data from South Africa — the first country to fall victim to the variant — shows Omicron is causing just a quarter of the number of deaths seen before it took hold. 

The Prime Minister today said Omicron — which now makes up 90 per cent of cases in all nine regions of England — is ‘obviously milder’ than previous strains, labelling it as one of the main reasons as to why he has opted against tightening restrictions. 

Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland each have implemented new socializing policies to counter the highly infectious variant. Today, Nicola Sturgeon stated that it was prudent and essential to act to ‘avoid overwhelming cases’.

MailOnline revealed today that experts believe the London outbreak may already have peaked. This would reflect the trend that was seen in South Africa’s ‘ground zero,’ if it is successful. 

The number of Covid patients in hospitals across England is on the rise, with 9,546 under NHS care yesterday. But the figure less than half of that recorded on the same day last winter, when 20,426 were in hospitals, and less than a third of the number seen at the peak of the Delta wave, when 34,336 were in hospital

There are now 9,546 Covid patients under NHS care in England. The figure is less than half that of last year’s, which saw 20,426 patients in hospitals. It was also less than one-third of those who were present at the height of the Delta wave (when 34,336 were admitted to hospital).

Despite the number of patients in hospital rising, those requiring mechanical ventilation beds has remained flat. Around 750 people were on ventilators yesterday, compared 1,641 on the same day last year and 3,736 at the Delta peak

Although the hospital population is increasing, there has been no increase in patients who require mechanical ventilation. Yesterday’s numbers were around 750, which is compared to the 1,641 who used ventilators the previous year. The Delta peak was 3,736.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a vaccination clinic in Milton Keynes today, Boris Johnson said: 'The Omicron variant continues to cause real problems. You are seeing cases rising in hospitals. But it is obviously milder than the Delta variant and we are able to proceed in the way that we are'

Boris Johnson spoke to journalists today during a visit at Milton Keynes’ vaccination clinic. He stated that the Omicron variant continued to pose real health problems. Hospitals are reporting an increase in cases. However, it’s clearly milder than Delta and so we can continue the way we’re going.

London’s Covid famine reached its peak a full WEEK before Christmas.

Covid cases in Omicron-hotspot London may have peaked a week before Christmas, scientists say.

Slightly more than 30,000 people living in the capital tested positive on December 21 before the number fell for two consecutive days, causing the city’s average infection rate to flatten off. Cases are already trending down in some of the worst-hit boroughs. 

One of the Government’s own advisers told MailOnline it was possible rates were dropping because of a ‘genuine decline’ in cases, mirroring the same trend seen in South Africa — the first country in the world to fall victim to the variant, where infections now appear to be in freefall. 

Other experts urged caution over the figures, saying they could be skewed by fewer tests being carried out over the Christmas period. Statisticians, however, insisted the rate will ‘eventually’ fall but it was ‘really difficult’ to say when. 

Despite Covid infection rates appearing to level off in London, they are still at the highest levels seen throughout the pandemic. 

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) statistics show almost 3 per cent of people living in Lambeth tested positive for the virus in the week ending December 23. That tally only takes into account people who were swabbed, and up to half of the infected never get tested.

The Omicron-fuelled wave of infections seen in London, where the variant first took hold in the UK, are expected to play out across the country in the coming weeks. All the other regions are now seeing a sustained increase in cases. Ministers have already ruled out imposing regional restrictions to fight Omicron. 

Data from the UKHSA — the agency in charge of the Government’s Covid statistics — shows 71,210 people tested positive for Covid on December 19. 

Scientists say there’s approximately a week lag between someone testing positive and being admitted to hospital.

For this reason, Government officials compare the two figures — cases by specimen data vs hospital admissions exactly a week later — to work out a rough hospitalisation rate. 

Virologists say it’s impossible to use this data to work out the exact proportion of infected patients who end up in hospital because of a variety of factors.

UKHSA data also shows there were 1,374 new Covid NHS admissions in England on December 26, the most recent day figures are available for. 

This data suggests around 1.9 per cent of cases end up in hospital a week later, but the average daily figure now stands at 1.5 per cent when day-to-day fluctuations in data are removed.

For comparison, on February 12, 10,576 people tested positive and 1,068 were admitted to hospital a week later, equating to a 10.9 per cent hospitalisation rate — seven times higher than the current figure.

But the rates are skewed by testing rates, with around 600,000 swabs being carried out every day then compared to 1.5million now. 

Dr Alexander Edwards, an associate professor in biomedical technology at Reading University, told MailOnline the high level of immunity from vaccination and high levels of previous infection ‘gives us a far stronger chance of wiping out the virus before it can cause more serious illness’.

He said: ‘As a result, what we’re seeing this winter is a very different picture. 

‘We’re still seeing incredibly high numbers of infection, but far fewer people getting ill enough to need hospital treatment.’

But Dr Edwards warned Omicron can still cause ‘really nasty disease’ and the country could still see ‘hospital overload and tragically, may still see increases in death rates’. 

‘The incredibly rapid rise in Omicron cases happened so recently that we’d only start to see these numbers coming through in the next week or two,’ he added.

Several real-world studies have already found Omicron — which has now been found in around 90 different countries —to be milder than previous strains of the virus.

The UKHSA found people who catch the super-mutant variant are up to 45 per cent less likely to be admitted to A&E and up to 70 per cent less likely to be hospitalised. 

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data showed 129,471 people tested positive in England over the last 24 hours, up 43 per cent on last week's figure of 90,629 — which included case numbers for the other home nations as well

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data showed 129,471 people tested positive in England over the last 24 hours, up 43 per cent on last week’s figure of 90,629 — which included case numbers for the other home nations as well

The daily death figures were also affected by reporting blips over the festive period, confusing the true state of the current Covid outbreak

The daily death figures were also affected by reporting blips over the festive period, confusing the true state of the current Covid outbreak

Ministers ‘will NOT impose regional restrictions to fight Omicron’ 

Ministers have ruled out regional lockdowns to tackle the Omicron coronavirus variant, according to reports – meaning that all of Britain could pay the price for some Londoners not getting jabbed.

A return to regional restrictions, such as tiers – which were credited with slowing the virus but ultimately failed to head off a third national lockdown – will not go ahead, reports The Times.

A Government source told the newspaper: ‘We are not looking at doing regional restrictions. That is not on the table.’

Referring to regional curbs, another source added: ‘It is difficult for people to understand because of different sets of rules. We want one set of rules for everyone in the country, which is easier for people to understand.’

The move could result in regulations being imposed on parts of the UK with comparatively low hospital admissions to areas such as London, where medics fear that rate could increase in the coming weeks due to a lag between people getting infected and becoming severely ill. 

And a study in South Africa found people who catch Omicron are 80 per cent less likely to be hospitalised than those who catch Delta, and 70 per cent less likely to be admitted to ICU or put on a ventilator compared to those who caught Delta in early 2020.

Data on patients who are admitted to hospital also suggests that Omicron infections are less severe than previous Covid strains.

Of the 9,546 people in hospitals across England yesterday, 758 were on mechanical ventilation beds (7.9 per cent).

For comparison, 3,736 patients were on ventilators at the peak last winter — five times as many as now — out of 32,907 patients (11.4 per cent).

It comes after a top expert yesterday said Omicron is ‘not the same disease we were seeing a year ago.

Sir John Bell, a world-leading immunologist and former Government adviser, said high Covid death rates were now consigned to ‘history’. 

In response to the growing evidence, Mr Johnson today said Omicron is ‘obviously milder’ than previously-dominant Delta.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a vaccination clinic in Milton Keynes, Mr Johnson said the vaccine rollout has allowed England to resist imposing further Covid restrictions, despite the other three UK nations bringing in strict curbs.

He said: ‘The Omicron variant continues to cause real problems. You are seeing cases rising in hospitals. 

‘But it is obviously milder than the Delta variant and we are able to proceed in the way that we are.’

Asked why England had acted differently to the devolved nations, Mr Johnson said: ‘I think that we’ve looked at the balance of the risks together, we generally concert our strategies together, we see the data showing that, yes, the cases are rising and, yes, hospitalisations are rising, but what is making a huge difference is the level of booster resistance or level of vaccine-induced resistance in the population.

‘What we need to do now is really finish off that work. I’ve no doubt at all that by January 1, by the New Year, every adult in the country will have been offered the slot to get a booster. They’ll be given a slot to get one.

‘The question is, are we getting people coming forward to take advantage of those slots? And that’s what needs to happen.’ 

England’s 1,374 hospitalisation figure on Boxing Day was up nearly 50 per cent on the previous Sunday. It marked England’s highest daily toll since February, during the darkest days of the country’s devastating second wave.

But a senior health official called for caution in misinterpreting the figures, warning hospitals were now recording more ‘incidental’ cases due to the rapid spread of Omicron.  

Did London’s Covid outbreak peak an entire WEEK before Christmas? Capital’s cases began to flatten out on Dec 18 as official figures show up to 3% of people in worst-hit boroughs tested positive in final week before Xmas Eve

Scientists say that Omicron-hotspot London could have seen a spike in covid cases a week ahead of Christmas.

A little more than 30,000. People living in Washington, DC were found to have been positive for the virus on December 21. This was before two days of consecutive falls that saw the city’s infection rate flatten. In some of the hardest-hit areas, cases are trending downward. 

One of the Government’s own advisers told MailOnline it was possible rates were dropping because of a ‘genuine decline’ in cases, mirroring the same trend seen in South Africa — the first country in the world to fall victim to the variant, where infections now appear to be in freefall. 

Others urged caution regarding the numbers, as they may be affected by the fact that fewer testing was done over Christmas. However, statisticians insisted that the rate would eventually fall, but it was difficult to predict when. 

Even though Covid infection rates appear to be declining in London they remain at their highest level since the outbreak. 

The UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA), statistics indicate that almost 3 percent of Lambeth residents tested positive for the virus during the week ended December 23. The tally does not take into consideration people who were swabbed. However, up to half of those infected are never tested.

Omicron-fueled infections that were first seen in London are likely to spread across the country over the next weeks. There is a steady increase in the number of cases across all regions. Ministers are already against the idea of putting restrictions on Omicron in their regions.

But hospitalisations and deaths – the key measurements monitored by ministers to determine whether tougher curbs are required to control the spread of the virus – are still a fraction of the levels seen last winter.

London has seen a double-digit increase in Coronavirus hospitalizations within a week. The combination of rising staff absences and pressure on NHS hospitals have exacerbated the problem. However, daily hospitalizations remain below 400 per day which could prompt a government intervention. 

NHS leaders warned that some admissions could be considered incidental because they may include those who are admitted for routine surgery, other conditions or people who have been diagnosed with Covid. However, they are concerned that Covid hospitalisations may increase in the next weeks.  

Infection rates per 100,000 people in London boroughs during the week to December 16
Infection rates per 100,000 people in London boroughs during the week to December 23

2.8% of Lambeth residents tested positive in the week ending December 23, (second image). This was followed by 2.6% in Wandsworth, Southwark, and Lewisham, which were 2,686 and 2,621 respectively per 100,000, and 2.5% in Lewisham, which is at 2,531 per 100. These boroughs saw the most rapid week-on week growth in infections rates, compared with the week ending December 16, (first image). This suggests that the capital’s epidemic is slowing down. Infection rates rose 11.5% in Wandsworth, 15% in Lambeth and 25% in Southwark. Cases increased by 43% in Lewisham

Cases rose by 12 per cent in the week ending December 23 in Wandsworth, 15 per cent in Lambeth, 25 per cent in Southwark and 43 per cent in Lewisham – the areas with the highest infection rate

Cases rose by 12 per cent in the week ending December 23 in Wandsworth, 15 per cent in Lambeth, 25 per cent in Southwark and 43 per cent in Lewisham – the areas with the highest infection rate

Ministers are thought to be watching admissions in Omicron hotspot London closely, with a breach of 400 expected to trigger further restrictions nationwide. The latest data shows 374 people were admitted to the capital on Boxing Day, up 73 per cent on the week before

The admissions to Omicron Hotspot London are being closely monitored by ministers. A breach of 400 could trigger additional restrictions across the country. Boxing Day data showed that 374 individuals were admitted into the capital, an increase of 73% from the week prior

No10 does not allow Covid to be isolated for more than five days 

Ministers today revealed there are no plans to cut the Covid self-isolation period to just five days, despite fears that crippling staff shortages will threaten the NHS and other vital parts of the economy.

Scientists, MPs and business leaders have lined up to urge Boris Johnson to follow the US’ example by once again reducing the time spent in quarantine.

The Government said that there were no further changes. Chloe Smith (minister for disabled people and health), said that the current 7-day period of isolation was the “right” length. 

Only last week, No10 reduced the England quarantine period from ten to seven days for people who have tested negative twice in a row. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to make any changes.  

But late on Monday, American health officials announced they would cut their isolation time for positive cases to just five days – provided people were showing no symptoms, piling pressure on the UK to follow suit.

Sir John Bell (a world-renowned immunologist who was formerly a Government adviser) said that he supported a similar move to the UK provided people did not record negative lateral flow. Paul Hunter from University of East Anglia called for the removal of all isolation rules. 

Others urged No10 not to rush into reducing isolation times. One NHS leader stated that any decision to reduce the quarantine time to five days must be supported by clear evidence it won’t cause an increase in infection rates.

Even though health officials warned that staff shortages in the NHS are more serious than increasing coronavirus cases, this is still true. 

Although the UKHSA published positive Covid infection reports for four days leading up to December 27, London, these numbers are not complete.

As more positive test results are received, they will be updated upwards and backdated accordingly. 

For December 23, (27.218), the most accurate and up-to date figure can be found. It was lower than the previous two days (28.696 and 30.269).

In recent days, cases have fallen in the most infected areas.

The virus was detected in 2.8 percent of Lambeth people during the week that ended December 23, and 2.6 percent in Southwark.

However, these boroughs experienced some of our lowest weekly growth.

Only 15% of cases increased in Lambeth. Southwark saw a 25% increase and Lewisham only 43%. 

In comparison, cases rose between 166 to 265 percent in the boroughs in week 16 of December.

The week-on-week rate of growth doesn’t account for recent trends in infection rates, which indicate a decline in many boroughs. 

Many experts are cautious when interpreting London’s infection rates as they can be heavily affected by the testing. 

The capital carried out around 270,000 tests per day in the week before Christmas, and test positivity — which measures the number of samples containing the virus — continued to rise.

One-fourth of those who had PCR tests performed in the weeks leading up to December 22 were found to be infected, compared to the one-in-16 before Omicron swept the country.

MailOnline spoke with Professor Peter Openshaw of Imperial College London, who is an immunologist. He also works as a SAGE scientist.

He added, “I wish this was good news, but I really urge caution.”

Professor Openshaw explained that data problems are inevitable during Christmas and that packed-in New Year celebrations can push case numbers upwards.

MailOnline was informed by Professor Kevin McConway of The Open University’s emeritus department of applied statistics, that it’s ‘difficult’ to determine whether London cases reached their peak. This is because testing patterns have changed significantly over the Christmas period, and this can be reflected in confirmed case numbers.

He said that the decrease in infection rates after December 21 was likely due to the week’s pattern of cases which peak on Tuesday or Wednesday. This is not a ‘definite indication of a trend change’.

Professor McConway stated that London cases would eventually fall as there is no more virus to infect.

‘It’s reasonably clear that case numbers in London are at least rising more slowly, but we just can’t be sure when the peak is reached – not yet anyway.’

He said that the positivity rate for London will “eventually drop”, but it is difficult to predict when, because of uncertainty regarding infection trends in London and testing patterns. 

Cases of Covid in South Africa are continuing to fall, as the wave caused by Omicron appears to burn itself out. The country, which was one of the first in the world to fall victim to Omicron, hit its peak in the seven days to December 17, when an average of 23,437 cases were recorded. But by Monday, the number had plummeted by 38 per cent to 14,390 cases

As Omicron’s wave continues to sweep South Africa, the number of cases of Covid is continuing to decline. Omicron struck South Africa first, with an average of 23437 cases per day. It was the country that fell to the worst of Omicron’s effects. The number of cases had dropped by 38% to 14,390 by Monday.

MailOnline’s infectious disease specialist at the University of East Anglia Professor Paul Hunter stated that London’s cases of certain diseases ‘probably haven’t peaked yet. Because positive cases during the week prior to Christmas will drop somewhat on the actual number of cases because people are less inclined to take a test in those few days, even if they become symptomatic, in the weeks before Christmas.

He stated that changes in cases around bank holidays are not always obvious.

Officials in the US fear that Omicron is less easily detected by covid lateral flows. 

Covid lateral flow tests may be less effective at detecting Omicron , US health chiefs have warned.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA ) said new laboratory findings indicated the rapid kits — which give results in as little as 15 minutes — could still spot the highly-infectious variant.

However, bosses cautioned that they might have decreased sensitivity and could incorrectly inform more people infected with the virus they are not. 

There are doubts about the test, as UK ministers and officials urge everyone to do a lateral flow before meeting people. This is to help reduce the risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.   

Several Britons were unhappy that they got a negative lateralflow result during Christmas, but later tested positive for PCR.

However, the UK Health Security Agency has maintained that data from lateral flow testing are only effective in detecting Omicron.

Professor Hunter stated that London is “particularly difficult” because many Londoners will leave London over Christmas in order to spend time with their loved ones.

“Also schools closing means that fewer people are doing regular lateral flows tests.

“The percentage of London test positives on December 22nd was 24.9%, up from 24.2% the previous day. This indicates that it has not peaked.

Deaths in the capital are relatively steady, however, at an average 12 deaths per week within 4 weeks of positive tests in December. This is compared with 11 in November.

London saw around 70 deaths per day last year, and the number of fatalities reached more than 200 in winter 2013.

Hospitalisations – which ministers monitor closely, with a breach in London of 400 per days expected to trigger additional restrictions nationwide – show that 374 people were treated in London’s hospitals on Boxing Day. This is up 73% from the previous week.

Because of the amount of time that it takes to make someone seriously ill after a test positive, admission trends are two to three week behind cases.

However, the December 26 admissions of 374 people per day are significantly lower than those admitted to London’s same day last year by 607 and far below London’s record 977.

The UKHSA found that 40% of Omicron infections in London patients had not been vaccinated.

NHS officials cautioned against the over-interpretation of Covid patient admissions to hospitals, which can inflate their real impact on the health system.

Chris Hopson was yesterday the chief executive of NHS Providers. He stated that trust leaders were closely monitoring their hospital admissions data.

“Talking to chief executives today, I get the impression that admissions have been increasing slowly but surely. The most interesting thing about chief executives is the way they talk about how many patients are admitted to hospital with no symptoms and later tested positive for Covid.

“Trusts do not report large numbers of Covid-type respiratory issues in patients who require critical care or increased oxygen use. This is contrary to what we observed at January’s Delta variant peak.

“We must be careful when interpreting the current Covid admission data. He stated that trusts “are preparing for all possible outcomes and hoping for the very best”.