The daily Covid cases in Britain have surpassed 50,000, according to official data. There are fears that the Omicron variant could be taking root in Britain.

According to government figures, another 54,584 positive test results were reported in the past 24 hours. This is an increase of 1% from Friday. Yesterday, 53 945 cases of infection were reported. 

After six Omicron cases in connection to a Glasgow steps concert, Nicola Sturgeon warns that Omicron is spreading throughout the Scottish community.

Official data also suggests the mutant strain is being transmitted domestically in England, as the number of suspected cases of the mutant strain begins to tick up sharply. To date, Britain has reported 59 cases. 

While the variant is likely only making up a small number of cases in the UK — where the vast majority of cases are still the Delta variant — it is feared the country could be on the brink of a fresh wave.

Recent figures have shown that hospitalisations rose 8 percent over a week following 787 cases on November 29. Seven days ago, there had been 730 admissions. However, deaths dropped 10% each week after the addition of 143 fatalities.

Oliver Dowden, Tory chairman and party chair, said that Britons need to ‘keep calm’ as they go about their Christmas preparations, despite growing concern over this variant.

Boris Johnson called for Britons to stop cancelling festive parties. He also said the hospitality industry is being affected by the influx of thousands pulling out their bookings.

According to separate data, almost 950,000 people had Covid in England last week. It was an increase of 4 per cent compared with last week.

According to the Office for National Statistics, no Omicron cases could be linked with Omicron. Virutally all Omicron cases were Delta. 

Omicron epicentre Gauteng’s R rates have risen to around one and 3.5 respectively in the past month. This suggests that one in 10 people who are infected by the virus can transmit it to at least 35 other people.

The R rate in Britain has never soared to 1.6, even during the worst days of the second waves.

Official data shows that the proportion of positive Covid tests with a mutation synonymous with the highly-evolved strain is on the rise. Like Alpha, or the 'Kent variant', Omicron has a specific alteration which means it can be detected through PCR tests without the need for genomic sequencing. The proportion of positive tests in England with this so-called S-gene dropout has risen from 0.1 per cent in the past week to 0.3 per cent, the equivalent of one in 330. Scientists said the increase in S-gene dropouts suggests there could be hundreds of Omicron cases that are flying under the radar currently

Official data indicates that there is an increase in the percentage of positive Covid test results for the mutation associated with the extremely-evolved strain. Omicron is similar to Alpha and the ‘Kent varietal’. It has a unique alteration that allows it to be detected using PCR tests, without the need of genomic sequencing. This so-called S gene dropout is responsible for increasing the proportion of Omicron positives in England from 0.1% to 0.3 percent in the last week, which equals one in 330. According to scientists, the increased number of S-gene failures could indicate that hundreds of Omicron cases are currently under radar. 

Some 59 cases of Omicron have been confirmed in the UK so far. Twenty-nine infections have been spotted in England, including three in Westminster and two in each of Barnet, Buckinhamshire, Camden, Lewisham and South Northamptonshire. And Scotland's cases today increased by 16 to 29. The first 13 infections were divided between Lanarkshire and the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, but a Government spokesperson declined to confirm where the 16 new cases were spotted. And Wales announced this afternoon that its first case has been found in Cardiff

There have been 59 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK. There have been 29 cases in England of Omicron, with three being in Westminster. Two in Camden and one each in South Northamptonshire, Buckinhamshireshire, Camden and Lewisham. Scotland saw an additional 16-29 cases. Although the first 13 cases were split between Lanarkshire, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lanarkshire, a spokesperson for the Government declined to say where they were found. Wales has announced that the first known case of this disease was found in Cardiff. 

Almost 900,000 people in England had Covid on any given day last week, official data suggests. This chart shows overall Covid rates

Official data indicates that nearly 900,000.00 people in England were covered by Covid last week. This graph shows Covid overall rates  

Data in South Africa shows the R-rate has soared to over three per cent in recent weeks as Omicron took hold in Gauteng province

South Africa data shows that the R-rate rose to more than three percent in South Africa since Omicron was established in Gauteng.

Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, experts behind a Government-funded new study say. Graph shows: The number of T-cells per 10^6 peripheral blood mononuclear cells in people who have had two doses of the AstraZeneca after a third dose of the Pfizer (red bars) and Moderna (blue bars) vaccines

According to experts who conducted a Government-funded study, booster vaccines for Covid may offer protection against Omicron variant. Graph showing: T-cells in 106 peripheral blood mononuclear cell counts of people who had received two doses AstraZeneca (red bars) or Moderna (blue bar) vaccines.

Today’s official data revealed that there is a rise in the number of Covid positive tests for a mutation associated with this highly evolved strain. 

Omicron, like Alpha or the ‘Kent variation’, has a particular alteration that can be detected by PCR without the need to perform genomic sequencing.

England has seen an increase in positive S-gene test results, with a rise of 0.1% in the week before to 0.3% today. This is the equivalent of 1 in 3330. 

Scientists believe that hundreds of Omicron cases are currently flying unnoticed by the S-gene dropouts. 

Oslo 60, who received Omicron from the Norwegian Christmas party, all had MILD symptoms such as headaches and sore throats. Doctors have confirmed that they are not alone. 

Doctors revealed that Omicron Covid has only been found in mild cases in several Christmas revelers infected by Omicron Covid.

A week ago, 60 people fell ill at a party in Oslo. Some have headaches or sore throats. Others have a cold.

Tine Ravlo is the chief physician in the area where the virus was discovered. He said that the symptoms were similar to those reported from South Africa.

 But, he added, it is still too early to tell whether that makes Omicron more or less dangerous than Delta. They are all children and have had their vaccines. This is a common combination which can lead to milder symptoms.

Ravlo stated that everyone infected at this party, which included employees of South African renewable energy provider Scatec was currently recovering at their home.

Following several people who visited Scatec’s Cape Town headquarters recently, the Olso Omicron Virus outbreak was declared.

50 of the people who were present at Scatec’s party tested positive for PCR, which means they have been confirmed Covid cases. Another 10 tested positive for lateral flow. This indicates they may be suspected, but have not yet been confirmed.

Only one Omicron case has been identified using genetic sequencing, while 10-15 Omicrons have already been declared.

All cases, however, are presumed to represent the latest variant. More sequencing tests will be performed soon.

Ravlo stated that the incubation period of the new variant, the time between infection and first symptoms, is two to four days.

There have been 59 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK. There have been 29 Omicron cases in England so far, with three of them in Westminster. Two in Lewisham, Camden and Barnet. 

Scotland has seen an increase in cases from 16 to 29 today. Although the first 13 cases of the disease were split between Lanarkshire, Glasgow and Clyde and Greater Glasgow and Clyde areas, a spokesperson for the Government declined to say where they were found.

Wales also announced today that it has found its first case in Cardiff.

Nine of Scotland’s cases were linked to a single event on November 20 — four days before South Africa alerted the world to Omicron in a move which prompted the world to shut itself of from the nation. The fact the cases were already in the UK suggests transmission within the community is already taking place. 

Today, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Omicron announced that six Omicron cases had been linked to a Steps concert in Glasgow on November 22. The following night, there were no Omicron cases. 

Labs determine whether CovidPCR test results are positive by looking for specific parts of the virus. One of these is the spike protein found on the cell’s outside.

On Omicron, the spike has mutated so much that the tests cannot detect it and only confirm whether other parts of the virus are present in a person’s nose and throat swab to tell if they are infected.

Around 50% of PCR tests are performed in England by labs that employ a detection kit to look for spike proteins and other components of the Covid cells. 

Omicron is causing an unprecedented increase in South Africa’s cases. Omicron was alerted to by scientists in South Africa who spotted the S gene dropout.

Experts are concerned about the changes in spike protein and have raised concern that the strain might escape vaccination protection or natural immunity due to a prior infection.

But genomic sequencing of positive Covid samples — laboratory analysis that identifies a virus’s genetic make-up, allowing variants and mutations to be detected — remains the only full-proof way to confirm if a Covid infection was caused by Omicron.

Dr Davies tweeted that the increase in S-gene dropout from the usual level of 0.1 per cent to 0.3 percent between November 24 and 28 ‘represents about 60 more SGTF cases than we would expect to see.

‘Given that Omicron causes SGTF, while the otherwise globally dominant Delta variant doesn’t, these “excess” SGTFs are most likely Omicron cases, at least some of which have yet to be confirmed via sequencing.

‘However, this number will probably go up, as the last 2-3 days of data are still filtering in.

He tweeted: ‘The fact that there has been an increase in SGTF isn’t necessarily surprising — we have 22 confirmed Omicron cases in England as of today, so there was going to be an SGTF signal sooner or later. This isn’t meant to be shocking news.’

The apparent increase in Omicron cases could suggest the variant is being spread in the community, or signal that more international arrivals — who are required to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving in the UK — are testing positive.

Dr Davies added: ‘In a manner of speaking, we have been lucky in the UK that first Alpha had SGTF, then Delta didn’t, and now Omicron does.

‘Each time, we have been able to use the presence or absence of SGTF to detect probable VOC [variant of concern]Some cases were not available until a few days after the sequencing data was made.

‘The SGTF signal also makes it easier to monitor the severity of a new variant, since it gives us another way to classify a case’s lineage and then to see whether a given lineage is more or less likely to lead to severe disease.’

NERVTAG advises South Africa’s Government about the danger posed by emerging and new respiratory viruses.

All the S-gene Dropout Samples Sequencing in South Africa were confirmed Omicron Cases, making it ‘currently reliable’ as a marker for the variant. 

Meanwhile, it was revealed today that the R rate in Gauteng, the epicentre of South Africa’s outbreak, has soared from less than one to 3.5 in just a month — suggesting that every 10 infected people are passing the virus onto 35 others.  

Graph shows: The seven-day average number of cases in provinces across South Africa. Infections are spiking in Guateng (dark green line), the epicentre of the Omicron wave in South Africa

Graph shows: The percentage of tests coming back positive in the whole of South Africa since the start of the pandemic averaged over seven days (red line) and on a daily basis (blue line)

This graph shows the percentage of positive tests in South Africa over the past seven days since the outbreak of the pandemic (red line), and daily (blue line).

Graph shows: The seven-day average number of cases per day recorded in provinces across South Africa since the end of October. Infections increased to more than 1,000 per day in Guateng (dark green line), the epicentre of the Omicron wave

This graph shows the seven-day average incidence of infections in South Africa’s provinces since October. Guateng saw an epidemic of Omicron waves, with more than 1,000 infections per day.

This comes as a result of data released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases yesterday evening. It showed that 11,535 Covid cases had been recorded within the last 24 hours. That’s a 368 percent increase on the Thursday, when 2,465 new infection were reported.

The country had 51,402 Covid tests and 22.4% of those tested for the virus. Comparatively, 38.075 percent of the tests were taken last week on the same date and 6.5% were positive.

In the meantime, hospitalisations increased by 180% in seven days. Last Thursday saw 98 patients admitted, and yesterday 274 Covid infected patients needed hospital treatment.

The number of Covid deaths dropped from 114 to 44 on Wednesday, representing a drop of 61%. Because of the length of time required to get seriously ill after contracting the virus, trends in deaths and hospitalizations are two- to three weeks behind those in cases.

Oliver Dowden offers some helpful advice to help you get through Christmas. 

Today, Oliver Dowden, Tory Party Chairman, insisted that people should “keep calm and continue” with Christmas parties and plans despite Omicron. However, Britain’s bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels are already losing billions and say “the damage has already been done”.

Dowden maintained that the guidelines were clear and consistent despite the fact that a variety of ministers offered contradictory or confusing advice. He also stated, “There’s still a Conservative Party Christmas Party planned.”

He said, “Brits must adhere to mask rules in shops and public transport.”

Boris Johnson has advised businesses to not cancel office parties. He also cautioned them against following orders from ministers who told people to wear masks and take tests, or to not kiss strangers. None of these are allowed in Government guidelines.

Sky News spoke with Mr Dowden. He said: “The message to people is quite simple – keep calm, continue your Christmas plans. Although we’ve established the appropriate restrictions, it is important to keep calm and continue your Christmas plans.

“I know that some people are concerned about this new variant. The Government has therefore taken the type of steps that we have already discussed… we believe these are sufficient at the stage. We think people should carry out their plans as planned.

In the midst of confusion over what to do next, some of Britain’s most important employers such as banks, tech and NHS decided to either cancel or move their festive celebrations online. Now, it is a 50/50 split.

Scientists from Stellenbosch University in Cape Town published a preprint that suggests Omicron may be at least 2.4x more likely than original strain to reinfect.

Researchers from the government claim that there have been 35,670 cases of reinfection since the start of the pandemic. In contrast to the first wave of infection in 2002-2003, the rate of reinfection dropped to 0.7 with the Beta-fuelled Second Wave last winter and this summer’s Third Delta surge.

However, the chance of contracting the virus has increased for the first-ever time to 2.4.

The Stellenbosch university, in Cape Town, reported that Omicron may be able to bypass protection from an existing infection. This is unlike natural immunity which suppressed the Beta or Delta versions.

The data could have important implications for public health, particularly in countries with high levels of infection.

There are ‘urgent questions’ about Omicron’s ability to avoid vaccine protection, as well natural immunity. If so, how does this impact hospitalisations or deaths.

Simon Clarke, a microbiologist from Reading University said that the data were the first indication Omicron might be immune to previous Covid infections.

He stated that although they could not confirm Omicron’s reinfection as a fact, the researchers were able to establish that Omicron did not cause the increase in transmission of Beta and Delta variants.

“There’s no evidence to support the idea that this immune evasion occurs, though it may be caused by decreased antibody binding to Omicron’s mutated spike proteins.

He said, “Omicron has made a huge hole in the controversial argument we should allow the infection spread to try to build immunity.”

Herd immunity now appears to be a distant dream. Omicron may have the ability to overcome vaccine-induced immunity. We are waiting for more information.

Researchers are at an all-time high speed trying to determine if Omicron has a higher transmissibility and death rate than other mutant strains. However, they warn that it may take at most a week for reliable estimates to be made.

Initial reports from southern Africa indicated that the majority of cases were either mildly or totally asymptomatic.

There has not been an age breakdown, so it’s impossible to say if this is due to the strain spreading to older persons.

It is considered a mild form of the Omicron virus, according to WHO. Christian Lindmeier spoke for the WHO today in Geneva. He said that he has not yet seen any reports about Omicron-related deaths.

“We’re gathering all of the evidence. We will discover more as we go.

“The more people we test, the more places… We will find more cases, more data, and hopefully, not only deaths, but more.”

Scientists believe that Omicron is likely to be protected by covid booster jabs

Covid booster vaccines are likely to offer good protection against the Omicron variant, experts behind a major new study say — in the first glimmer of hope since the emergence of the super-strain last week. 

According to the Government funded trial, T-cell immunity responses in the body after the third dose suggest that they continue to provide protection against the risk of death or hospitalisation by the new strain. 

It supports the UK’s decision not to use Moderna and Pfizer boosters. The most powerful mRNA Jabs that turbocharge antibody, T-cell responses.

The T-cells provide a longer-lasting and more comprehensive protection than the antibodies. However, they are less effective at protecting against infection.   

Professor Saul Faust is the trial leader and director at the NIHR Clinical Research Facility, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. He said that although we do not fully understand the relationship to long-term immunity the T cell data shows that the immune system seems to be stronger against all variant strains. This gives us hope that a variant strain could be treated, certainly for hospitalisation or death, if possible, with the existing vaccines.

According to him, T cells do not respond only to spike proteins but also recognize a wider range of antigens.

When asked about Omicron specifically, he replied: “Our hope as scientists that protection against death and hospitalization will continue to be intact.” 

Now, samples taken from the study were sent to the UK Health Security Agency to see if the Omicron variant of the virus can be neutralized by vaccines. 

Doctors in Norway have confirmed that 60 Omicron-infected people were at Christmas last week and are now experiencing mild symptoms.

Chief physician in the area where the epidemic occurred, Dr Tine Ravlo said that patients were suffering from headaches and sore throats. This is consistent with reports coming out of South Africa.

Only one Omicron case has been identified using genetic sequencing, while 10-15 Omicrons have already been declared.

All cases, however, are presumed to represent the latest variant. More sequencing tests will be performed soon.

Mr Ravlo said the ‘incubation period’ of the new variant — the time from infection to first symptoms — appears to be two to four days.

That is far less than the seven to 14 days for most other Covid variants, and would potentially make outbreaks easier to spot — though the data is still preliminary.

Ravlo stated that all the infections found in Oslo were traced back to the Christmas party, and that there has been no evidence for a wider spread.

However, Dr Kall stated that she was skeptical about the claims of the new strain causing less severe diseases.

On Twitter, she wrote: ‘I am extremely skeptical that it could be more mild. It’s best to assume it is similar in severity as Delta… however, you will see milder symptoms than Delta because more people are immune now.

However, promising data from the UK’s COV-BOOST study suggests the body’s T-cell immune response after a third Covid injection will protect against hospitalisation and death from Omicron.

The findings also support the UK’s decision to use Pfizer or Moderna as boosters, with mRNA jabs turbocharging the body’s antibody and T-cell responses the most.

It is believed that T-cells offer a greater level of protection and longer term than antibodies, which provide an immediate boost but then fade more quickly.

Professor Saul Faust, trial lead and director of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Even though we don’t properly understand its relation to long-term immunity, the T cell data is showing us that it does seem to be broader against all the variant strains.’

The provides ‘hope that a variant strain of the virus might be able to be handled, certainly for hospitalisation and death if not prevention of infection, by the current vaccines’, Professor Faust said.

Today, Oliver Dowden of the Tory Party insists that people “keep calm” and go ahead with Christmas celebrations despite Omicron. But Britain’s clubs, pubs and restaurants are set to suffer billions as cancellations persist.

Sky News spoke with Mr Dowden. He said: “The message to people is quite simple – keep calm, continue your Christmas plans. Although we’ve established the appropriate restrictions, it is important to keep calm and continue your Christmas plans.

“I know that some people are concerned about this new variant. The Government took the measures we have already described… We believe those are enough at this stage. People should not change their plans beyond what we suggested.

In the midst of confusion over what to do next, some of Britain’s most important employers such as banks, tech and NHS decided to either cancel or move their festive celebrations online. Now, it is a 50/50 split.

NHS to scrap routine surgeries to hit No10’s booster deadline: Health chiefs say their ‘absolutely only option’ is to cancel planned ops to deliver 50m jabs by January — with waiting list for elective care already at 6million 

Health leaders warn that the NHS will soon stop performing routine tasks to allow staff to focus on UK’s massive booster program.

Boris Johnson promised all eligible 53 million adults that he would offer a booster Covid vaccine before January 31st to protect the country from an incoming Omicron wave.

Health chiefs predict that this will lead to staff shortages, crippling waiting lists and a decline in patient care. 

‘The only way we will be able to meet the requirement will be to stop less essential and more routine work and I’m very reluctant to do that given the backlogs and pressures in the system,’ one NHS leader told The Independent.

There are fears that delaying elective care, which includes both regular procedures — such as knee operations — and scans to screen or check for health problems such as cancer or heart disease will further exacerbate record NHS waiting lists. 

Sajid Javid already acknowledged that doctors’ work will shift to the booster campaign, in an abrupt U-turn from face-to-face visits with doctors.

Javid previously focused on prioritizing Covid vaccination over the huge NHS wait list. This is now a change in focus. said addressing the backlogs were his ‘top priority’ and insisted the country ‘has to learn to live with Covid’, when he became In June, Health Secretary

In England, the waiting list is already at 6million. However, a new report warns that this number could rise to more than 2 million in just four years. This will be because millions of people return to the NHS for the care they need after the pandemic.