Boris Johnson, one of today’s most prominent Covid modelers for the Government, appeared to support Boris Johnson’s plan to “ride out” the Omicron wave. He claimed that more restrictions would not have any effect.

Mike Tildesley is a member the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modeling group (Spi-M), which feeds into SAGE. He questioned whether there should be more curbs as he said that he was seeing things change.

While he stated that preventive measures could have prevented the spread of infection if they had been taken prior to Christmas, he also admitted that it would not be as effective now that the virus is peaking. But he did not rule out the need for additional curbs in case of a recurrence. 

Dr Tildesley cited Omicron Hotspot London as an example of how Omicron will affect the rest the country. There, infections are already at a low level and admissions seem to have slowed down.

The latest data shows that there were only 347 admissions into the capital for New Year’s Day. This is a 7 percentage drop compared to previous weeks. This is the second consecutive day of admissions falling week-on-week.

The announcement comes after Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday at Downing Street that England could ride out the Omicron wave and not shut down its country. This is because it’s milder than previous strains.

While daily infections are running at record levels — 218,000 people tested positive yesterday — the number of Covid patients in hospital is still a fraction of previous peaks.

Today, there are approximately 15,000 Covid Inpatients, as compared to almost 40,000 January last year. Also, about one third of the current patients are not directly ill with the virus. There are fewer people who require ventilation.

Dr Tildesley, from the University of Warwick, told BBC Breakfast: ‘It does look like we may be in a situation where – we’re getting cases very, very high – but there’s early evidence that things might be turning around in London.

The problem is that once an infection has reached the tipping point, controls will not have much effect.

“So our modeling work done before Christmas indicated that some early intervention would have been effective in decreasing the number of hospital visits and increasing the demand for hospitals.

“But at the moment, speaking in the early New Year when we are starting to see things turning around, the effect of interventions being implemented now would be much less.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) which feeds into SAGE, questioned the need for more curbs when 'we're starting to see things turn around'

Mike Tildesley is a member the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling (Spi-M), which feeds into SAGE. He questioned whether there should be more curbs as he said that ‘we are starting to see things turn around.

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday that England had a 'chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country' because it is milder than older strains

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister stated at a Downing Street press conference that England has a chance to ride out Omicron waves without closing down our country. This is because they are milder than other strains.

There are 15,000 Covid inpatients now compared to nearly 40,000 last January, with Omicron sufferers being admitted quicker and presenting with milder illness

With 15,000 Covid patients now, compared with nearly 40,000 in January last year, Omicron sufferers are admitted faster and present with milder illnesses.

More than a quarter of Covid inpatients on December 28 were not primarily sick with the virus. Fewer sufferers are also requiring ventilation

On December 28, more than 25% of Covid patients were not initially ill with the virus. Ventilation is also less common for those who are not primarily sick with the virus.

The above graph shows the proportion of Covid patients needing ventilators while Delta was dominant (November) and after Omicron took hold (late December). It shows the proportion has halved, in yet another sign the disease is milder

Below is a graph showing the proportion of Covid-related patients that required ventilators when Delta was dominant (November), followed by Omicron (late December). The graph also shows that this proportion has decreased by half. This is another indicator of the milder nature of the disease.

The modeling done by Dr Tildesley before Christmas was widely criticized for being too optimistic after he projected thousands of deaths per day without curbs. 

‘The next few days will be really, really key for us to try to identify that – children are going back to school, we’ve had sort of differences in mixing patterns over the Christmas period and we are yet to see what happens in the data as a result of that,’ he said.

Omicron isolation crisis

Commuters traveling to Britain today faced another disruption in travel, with many trains being cancelled by Covid self-isolation laws.

People travelling from London to Birmingham were faced with the misery caused by staff shortages.

One-tenth of NHS workers are either sick with Omicron or self-isolating due to the milder and more contagious Omicron variant. In Manchester, Birmingham and London bin collections have been interrupted in Cumbria, Essex, Cheshire and Essex.

Yorkshire care home boss said staff shortages are worse than ever during the pandemic.

Shoppers have complained about long lines and empty shelves due to the lack of cashiers. There are fears that stores could close due to a shortage of HGV drivers.

On the trains, there was disruption for those using TfL Rail services between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington in West London due to a points failure between Hanwell and Southall which was blocking some lines.

Due to cancellations of trains, there were delays today on the Circle Line in London Underground.

TfL Rail East London and Greater Anglia passengers from Essex were also affected by delays between Romford, London Liverpool Street. This was due to a problem on a train at Stratford.

Due to an accident, a train that was not working properly caused delays in CrossCountry services and West Midlands Railway services from Birmingham New Street to Redditch this morning.

Most operators around Britain have already been forced to slash dozens of daily services due to around one in ten rail staff calling in sick – and some train firms will now run reduced services for several weeks.

TransPennine Express cancelled 24 trains yesterday and CrossCountry cut approximately 50 services daily until next week. LNER has taken 12 train services off the East Coast Main Line from London to Leeds every day until Friday.

Southern will not be running services into and out London Victoria from next Monday, while Gatwick Express has been temporarily suspended.

ScotRail is going to cut 160 trains, from the normal 2,000 per day up until January 28. This will mean fewer services between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Transport for Wales also cancelled nearly 100 trains between Newport, Crosskeys, Chester, and Liverpool Lime Street.

“In the coming weeks or so, we will be able to see if we have really peaked or if things are beginning to turn around. We’ll then have much more data about whether or not interventions were effective at this stage.

Dr Tildesley explained that it was “really important” to think long term about how the virus affects us, as opposed to relying only on the harmful limitations.

He added: ‘We can’t be having a conversation in two years time about putting in lockdown to deal with whatever might be circulating.

“We need to be more focused on how we will manage the virus while still living our normal lives.

“Now the Omicron variant was obviously a concern when it first emerged. It’s highly transmissible which is clearly a big worry but it’s much less serious than the Delta variant.

“If this is the trend we see, then we may be closer to a Covid situation circulating endemically within the UK. Hopefully, it will be milder.

He stated that we might need vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable, similar to those we use to prevent flu each winter. However, we could do this with no restrictions.

“I do not think we are there yet. However, I believe that once we overcome this winter wave, it will allow us to begin thinking like that moving into 2022.

Omicron will not overwhelm the NHS, but there is acceptance of the fact that Omicron has been testing positive. However, it is placing strain on essential services. 

Business chiefs have begged the Prime Minister to cut self-isolation as around 1.3million people languish under house arrest and rail services and bin collections grind to a halt.

Johnson faces mounting pressure from the public to cut quarantine again to seven days instead of five, after Johnson got Cabinet ministers’ approval to stick to Plan B today.

Before returning to Parliament from the Christmas break, Johnson will have to face PMQs before making his Covid statement.

To reduce pressure on the system the testing rules have been relaxed. People with positive results on lateral flow will not need to repeat PCR confirmatory tests.

Travel regulations will be reformed, eliminating the need for pre-arrival testing.

The PM however has not yet responded to calls for self-isolation reform, and expressed concerns that this could worsen existing problems.

After infections reached a record-breaking daily high of 218 000, staff absences threaten to derail the country. This means that nearly 1.3 million people are now positive.

Richard Walker is the Iceland supermarket chain’s managing director. He warned that while the company is doing well, the absentee charts are now almost vertical, with levels nearly twice the height of last year’s ‘Pingdemic.

It is clear that businesses are under tremendous pressure. Sky News interviewed him about the new contagious variant.

“My appeal to government is to prioritize lateral flow testing for key workers such as food retail workers and front-line shop workers. I also urge them to reconsider the burdensome isolation rules.

“Seven Days is not a good time to be triple jabbed, even though the symptoms in most cases are mild or common.

Matthew Taylor (chief executive at the NHS Confederation) also said he supported the move so long as the science is backed.

Taylor explained that it was possible for workers to return to work as soon as science suggests.

There have been many hospitalizations in the NHS, and there has been a lot of absences. Mr Johnson declared at Downing Street that the NHS is now on a “war footing” and that there are a number of serious incidents.

Although the PM stated that now was the right time to exercise ‘utmost care’, he made it clear that he will not place any restrictions on Omicron. Omicron’s stress is less severe and the cases do not translate into an increased need for intensive care as in previous waves.

It is likely that the government will state only symptoms-positive people should undergo PCR testing. However, those with asymptomatic lateral flows positive should continue to isolate for at minimum seven days.

According to the current rules, people can be freed from prison at that time as long as they don’t return any adverse results less than 24 hours after day six or seven.

It appears that the change was made to reduce lab staff pressure, rather than increase productivity. As the isolation period commences when individuals become positive from a side flow, and not after they have a PCR done.

The Hawkish ministers praised Johnson’s determination to not bow to demands for additional restrictions in the lead up to Christmas.

MailOnline received a statement from a cabinet minister saying that he would be given credit for his “bravery”. “I feel the PM made the right choice. That was brave. He was absolutely right about Freedom Day.

The minister pointed to a poll that suggested the Tories had gained ground in the last fortnight and said: “The public wants people to make brave decisions.” He deserves credit for Christmas, I believe.

There is growing pressure to take action to reduce workforce pressure. Craig Beaumont of Federation of Small Businesses stated: “Five-day isolation will help address some of our staff absences, which we see now really rise.”