Official data suggest that Omicron is being caught by at least 4000 Britons every day, with the super strain on pace to surpass the top in just a few weeks.
The highly-evolved virus is now behind 8.5 per cent of overall coronavirus cases and is doubling every two to three days, according to analysis of UK Health Security Agency data.
With an average 48,000 Britons testing positive for Covid every day, it suggests more than 4,000 of them are the new Omicron variant — even though less than 1,000 cases have been confirmed by laboratory analysis.
The public health chiefs anticipate it will outstrip Delta before Christmas. It is on track to become dominant in London — which has become the UK’s epicentre after the virus was seeded by incoming — even sooner.
Boris Johnson stated Wednesday that he hopes the Plan B new measures will be sufficient to slow the spread of mutant strains while booster jabs continue to roll out.
Today, the first section of Government’s Plan B was implemented with mandatory face masks being used indoors such as cinemas, churches and theatres.
On Monday, new work-from home guidance will be in effect. The next day, MPs will vote on vaccine passports being introduced for large nightclubs.
Officials are working on a “Plan C” to put restrictions on care homes in advance of Christmas. Also, masks will be required in restaurants and pubs.
If Omicron is found to be as deadly as scientists believe, then the controversial vaccine passports may be expanded to other locations as part of Downing Street’s contingency plans.
The mutant strain of the virus and the cumulative number of cases could result in 1,000 admissions to Britain per day, according to SAGE modelling.
Omicron is suspected to be responsible for 8.5% percent of the infections, according to Confidential UK Health Security Agency Data. Figures are based on the failure rate of PCR tests to find a particular gene. It is an early indicator that the variant may be present. To confirm Covid infection, PCR tests look for three genes. However Omicron only detects two.
According to the UK Health Security Agency, the map above shows the top ten locations with Omicron-related cases. West Northamptonshire has been identified as the hotspot of this strain. However, London is home to eight out of ten.
UKHSA reported that the number of cases in England rose by 90 percent in local authorities. This is despite the Omicron variant spreading.
Scientists can use PCR to estimate Omicron’s spread, unlike Delta. However, they do not need to sequence every case. To detect infection, these tests look for three genes, however, the missing gene, the ‘S,’ gene, is not found.
Because Delta contains all three, scientists can determine which Omicrons are.
Professor Alastair grant, an expert in Covid modeling at the University of East Anglia revealed data from UKHSA and said that it was possible for the spread rate of the virus to be as high as four.
It means that every patient who is infected will spread the virus to at least four other people. This would represent a new record for England. The rate is currently at 1.8. It was even higher during the Alpha wave in January.
He said that there could have been as many as 7,000 Omicron infection in the UK between November 20 and now, more than 8 times the official count.
Although 817 cases have been confirmed in Britain, Government scientists believe the real number could be 20 to 100 times greater. Their experts warn that there could be a million infected people in the UK by January.
West Northamptonshire has been designated the Omicron capital in England. It is home to 83 suspected or confirmed infections by the mutant strain.
London, which has eight out of ten affected areas is considered the epicenter for the strain’s spread regionally, hosts the majority (81%) of these ten regions. They include Hackney (10 cases), Hackney (16), Lambeth (16), Newham (16), Brent (16), Greenwich (16), Wandsworth (16), and Lewisham (26)
Professor Kevin Fenton from London’s public health department has said that the mutant strain could cause more than half of the ten capital cases to be diagnosed within the next two weeks.
On BBC Radio 4, he stated: “We are extremely concerned about its spread.”
‘Although we have limited diagnostic capabilities to identify the variant at the moment, the samples that we’re taking are confirming that we are seeing a growth in the number of cases every two to three days.
“At our current rate, we will be seeing thousands of patients diagnosed by the end of next week. In the following two to four weeks that should make up the bulk of the cases we see in the City. So we take this very seriously.
Officials are currently working on an ‘Plan C” package to address the concerns of shops, restaurants, and pubs about how much they could lose during peak times of year due to Plan B.
To be able to visit a pub, restaurant or bar, you will have to check in with NHS Covid. You can also use face masks indoors and show your vaccine passport to access even more places.
The Government’s Plan B first component came into effect on Thursday. It included the mandatory use of face masks indoors such as churches, cinemas, theatres and cinemas.
In the midst of fury over Mr Johnson’s decision yesterday to impose Plan B restrictions, and as he tried to cope with the aftermath of Downing Street’s Christmas party scandal, there is the looming threat that even stricter restrictions will be imposed.
Next week’s vote will see him face off with his backbenchers. They reacted furiously to the planned introduction of vaccine passports next week – and took aim at the ‘conflicting’ guidance on working from home and socialising.
A minimum of 50 Tories expressed concern publicly, while a senior Conservative stated that Johnson must ‘get a handle’.
MailOnline was told by Ringleaders, that the mutiny will be one of the most significant yet. At least 60 are expected to rebel against the whip.
This comes just weeks after the UK Health Security Agency’s Weekly Covid Surveillance Report found that cases are now on the rise in 9 of 10 local authorities in England due to the spreading of the variant.
The largest Covid-symptom-tracking study in the UK claimed that infections increased by four percentage points last week. This despite Delta’s warnings.
Scientists at King’s College London estimated that 83,658 people contracted the virus in an average day from December 4th to December 4. This is an increase of 80,483 over the previous seven days.
The booster rollout has caused cases to stagnate or fall in over-55s. However, the numbers are increasing in younger age groups and in particular children, who account for about 30% of all daily cases. The cases rose in the UK, London and the South East.
Professor Tim Spector, who leads the ZOE symptom study, said that while it was too early to see Omicron in the data, he warned the NHS could be overwhelmed if cases of the super-strain begin to skyrocket as predicted.
He said the evidence — alongside claims it may be more mild than other strains — was no reason to be ‘relaxed’, adding: ‘The higher rate of transmission even in the vaccinated could have devastating consequences… Hundreds of people continue to die every week as we head into our second Christmas of this pandemic.’
Professor Spector who calls for additional restrictions from September welcomed Boris Johnson’s Plan B announcement, but was concerned that it would be ‘too little too late’.
People in England should be able to work remotely, use face masks when in theatres or cinemas, and have vaccine passports available for big events.