The UK is about to be hit by a large wave of Covid hospitalisations and the peak could be even higher than last winter despite the reduced severity of Omicron, SAGE have warned.

In minutes from a meeting on December 23 published last night, the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned that the peak on hospital admissions ‘may be comparable to or higher than previous peaks’ – including the second wave in January.

Omicron, according to an Imperial College analysis, is up to 20% less likely for people to get admitted than Delta. It also found that the chance of having to stay in the NHS overnight was even lower, with a reduced risk of up to 45 per cent. 

Even ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson, whose original modelling in early 2020 spooked the Government into the first national shutdown, said the fourth wave will be ‘nothing like what we seen last year, with ICUs overflowing with patients’ on the back of the new findings. 

However, new modelling by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggests there could be a large number of hospitalisations this winter, even though the Covid variant is much less likely to cause severe illness, and even if fresh restrictions are introduced after Christmas.

The modellers warned that December 28 is the last date that restrictions could be introduced before it is ‘too late’ for lockdown-type measures to have any effect. 

The models looked at restrictions that would last three months, ending March 31, and found little to no difference in terms of restrictions that ended January. But they stressed there is a high degree of uncertainty about what the real-world impact of Omicron’s reduced severity will be – and any new restrictions will be fiercely opposed by Tory MPs.

In London, now regarded as the UK’s Omicron ‘ground zero’, there were 386 new Covid hospital admissions on December 22, according to the latest NHS data. Though they are still a far cry from the 850 admissions achieved at the peak of the second wave in January, they mark a 92 per cent rise on the figure last week, and are within touching distance of the Government’s threshold of 400 for further lockdown curbs. 

In minutes of the meeting, chaired by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Downing Street’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, SAGE said: ‘The earlier interventions happen, and the more stringent they are, the more likely they are to be effective.’ 

Advisers on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group said that even under ‘rapidly enacted Step 2 measures, peak hospital admissions in the 20 per cent severity scenario are broadly similar to those seen in January 2021’.

‘Peak admissions scale with the risk of admission given infection, so are 2.5 times lower in the 20 per cent severity scenario than the 50 per cent scenario and would be 4 times higher were Omicron 80 per cent as severe as Delta,’ they said. The group added: ‘More stringent measures would decrease the number of days when many people are in hospital.’

SAGE’s warnings are likely to pile pressure on Boris Johnson to impose curbs – potentially including the Rule of Six and a ban on households mixing next week.

After examining the most recent Omicron data, the Prime Minister will make a decision on Monday about whether or not to implement stringent measures. The Government scientists indicated that the curbs might remain in place up to March as a blow for millions of new year’s hopes.

As the coronavirus crise enters its latest dramatic phase 

  • Boris Johnson is being pressured by advisers to implement new Covid restrictions. This could include a ban on household mixing starting next week.
  • Millions will be sent a text by the Government informing them that they should get a booster shot on Boxing Day. This is part of the ongoing battle against Omicron. 
  • London’s Covid Hospital admissions are just a touch away from the threshold 400 set by the Government for the introduction of lockdown restrictions throughout the country.
  • Last week, a record number of people were affected by Covid. The ten most severely hit areas by Covid in England lie within three miles of south London.
  • Data from the government dashboard shows that there have been 122,186 positive test results in the nation within the past 24 hours. 
  • After a difficult few months, six in ten Britons want Mr Johnson to be ousted.  
  • A little over 900,000. could have to spend Christmas Day alone after they caught Covid within the past 10 days.
  • One in four NHS workers had developed PTSD because of working with Covid patients.  

The UK is about to be hit by a large wave of Covid hospitalisations and the peak could be even higher than last winter despite the reduced severity of the Omicron variant, SAGE have warned

SAGE has warned that the UK will be hit hard by the Omicron variant of Covid, and this could lead to even more hospitalizations.

The Prime Minister will decide on Monday whether to introduce stringent measures following a review of the latest data on Omicron. In a blow to the new year hopes of millions, Government scientists have indicated that these curbs could remain in place until March

After a thorough review of Omicron’s latest data, the Prime Minister will make a decision on Monday about whether or not to implement stringent measures. These curbs may remain in effect until March, according to Government scientists.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty

Downing Street’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance

At the meeting, chaired by England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Downing Street’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, SAGE called for tough measures to contain the spread of the virus

Reports have claimed ministers are watching hospitalisation numbers in the capital, with a two-week 'circuit breaker' lockdown set to be imposed if daily numbers surpass 400

According to reports, ministers monitor hospitalization numbers in capital. If daily figures exceed 400 they will be subject to a lockdown for two weeks.

Last week, a record 1.7MILLION Brits contracted Covid. It was revealed that 10 of the most infected postcodes in England were within 3 miles of South London. One in twenty people in Capital City had been infected. Daily cases reached a new high of 122,000 

Last week, a record 1.7 million people experienced Covid. Official statistics showed that the 10 worst affected areas of England by Covid are within three-mile radius from South London. Today’s official figures revealed that 122,000 cases in the UK rose today.

London’s supermutant Omicron strain is causing the most severe problems. London was quickly identified as a major hotbed for Omicron earlier in the month. ONS data shows that one in 20 Londoners are now infected.

The ten postcodes — all in Wandsworth and Lambeth — have an average infection rate of 3,819 cases per 100,000 people, more than quadruple the 838 per 100,000 in the rest of the country.

Data from the Government Dashboard shows that there have been 122,186 positive test results in the nation within the past 24 hours. This was an increase of about 30% over the previous week and nearly double what it was a fortnight earlier.

Today’s new infections mean nearly 900,000 Britons who’ve tested positive in the last 10 days face spending Christmas Day in self-isolation — although people who tested positive a week ago in England can be let out early if they come back negative on lateral flows.

Meanwhile separate ONS figures revealed nationally there were 1.69million infections per day in the week up to December 19 — last Sunday — rising 55 per cent compared to the previous week.

The survey — based on swabs of more than 555,000 people — is regarded as the most reliable indicator of Britain’s Covid pandemic because it uses random sampling rather than relying on people coming forward for tests.

Despite a record-breaking number of infections last Wednesday, the ONS findings don’t match the grimy Government modelling which has indicated Omicron doubled nationally every two weeks.

Positive testing indicates that infection rates are not increasing as fast as anticipated. They rose to 16% on December 19, up from 9% at the beginning of the month.

MailOnline raised concerns this week about the lack of transparency regarding NHS data concerning Covid hospital patients.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith emphasised that the issue of whether people are being hospitalised ‘with’ or ‘for’ Covid-19 was ‘really important’ for working out how much pressure the NHS really faces.

There are growing concerns that routine testing is causing the numbers to be exaggerated. Sir Iain added: ‘The Government has dragged its feet over showing those figures, I suspect because they know what will happen – it will reduce the numbers that they have going into hospital with Covid – in other words who are ill and have to go to hospital because of Covid.’

MailOnline analyses of NHS England statistics suggest that nearly two-thirds have been admitted for coronavirus in the last week.

Experts predict that Omicron will continue to spread rapidly and there will be more Covid admissions.

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay also called for urgent clarity, telling MailOnline: ‘This is the question we have been asking right the way back from day one in March (last year) – what are these numbers?

‘Are these people going in with coronavirus and that’s the reason for their admission, or have they gone in with a broken leg, had a test and “Oh God, you’ve got a positive test”. They are quite different numbers. Entirely different numbers.’

SAGE admits now that admissions to hospital beds for patients who have tested positive on their mental health wards are included in the daily total.

In minutes from the group’s most recent meeting, they said: ‘The number of people in hospital with Omicron infection continues to increase with a doubling time of around 4-5 days. Some of this increase is due to nosocomial transmission including in mental health hospitals.’ 

The modelling, made by experts from Warwick University looked at a package of measures, including some in line with the Step 2 restrictions in place in April in England. 

According to the Warwick Research, Step 2 could be imposed on December 28th or New Year’s Day. They would then remain in effect until January 15, 28, or March 28.

Ministers have not seen the modelling yet, but they are likely to take a decision next week on additional restrictions, possibly as early as Monday.

It was concluded before the most recent data. This suggests that Omicron may be less dangerous than Delta.

A consensus paper by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (Spi-M-O) published today said ‘rapidly enacted Step 2 measures reduce the peak of hospital pressure to about half its level under Plan B only’.

The model also examined the effect that ‘non-mandated behavior change’ might have on mixing if the volume of mix was reduced by half what Step 2 achieves.

SpiM-O’s summary of Warwick modelling stated that a reduction in mixing of half the amount of Step 2 leads to a tiny reduction in severe outcomes when compared to Plan B.

“Step 2′ has a greater effect. It reduces deaths by 39% (from December 28 through March 28) and 18% (12-07%) if maintained until January 15.

Minutes from a Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies Meeting on December 23, noted that ‘the peak of (hospital] admissions is highly uncertain but, even with a decrease in severity may be comparable to, or higher than past peaks in the lack of significant behaviour changes or further interventions.

According to the minutes, “the sooner interventions occur, the greater the likelihood they will be successful.” 

Ministers are said to be watching admission rates in the capital before pulling the trigger on more national curbs because London is a few weeks ahead in its Omicron outbreak. Tory backbenchers would likely resist any attempt to restore the lockdown restrictions from Step 2. Around 100 MPs revolted against the Prime Minister in order to pass England’s Plan B measures. If ministers feel that additional measures are necessary, the risk of another revolt could lead him to use guidance rather than create new laws to limit socialising.

A national two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown has been mooted after Christmas if London’s daily admissions breach 400 this week — which would signal ‘unsustainable’ pressure on the NHS. 

London was the epicenter of Omicron infected UK two weeks ago. The super mutant Omicron variant took over the entire country. Experts are interpreting trends in London as an indicator of future events for England. 

The delay in recording NHS data means that it won’t be known until after Christmas whether admissions exceeded 400 during the previous two days. 

Experts and MPs have demanded that the government distinguish between those who are hospitalized ‘with’ or “for” Covid, before making any social restrictions. 

Covid hospital admissions in London — Britain's Omicron ground zero — are within touching distance of the Government's threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown restrictions across the country

Covid hospital admissions in London — Britain’s Omicron ground zero — are within touching distance of the Government’s threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown restrictions across the country 

Covid hospitalisations are now doubling roughly every 10 days - though they are still a far cry from the 850 at the peak last January

Although they have doubled in the past 10 days for covid hospitals, it is still quite a distance from the 850 that was peaking last January

A graph showing the daily count of Covid patients in mechanical ventilation beds. Johnson may have to make a call on more restrictions by Tuesday at the latest so they can be implemented in time for New Year's Eve

The daily Covid patient count in mechanical ventilation beds. Johnson might have to call for more restrictions before Tuesday, at the latest, so that they can be put into effect in time for New Years Eve. 

An age breakdown of the number of covid patients admitted to hospital since the start of the pandemic (left) and as the rate per 100,000 people since the start of the pandemic (right)

A breakdown in age for the covid patient admitted to hospital during the pandemic.

Shoppers on Oxford Street on Christmas Eve. Further Covid restrictions could be imposed just in time for New Year's Eve as Boris Johnson is set to review the latest figures on Monday

Christmas Eve: Shoppers at Oxford Street Boris Johnson will review the most recent figures Monday and could impose additional Covid restrictions just in time to New Year’s Eve.

People shopping on Oxford Street earlier this Friday. A national two-week 'circuit breaker' lockdown has been mooted after Christmas if London's daily admissions breach 400 this week

This Friday, shoppers were seen on Oxford Street shopping earlier. After Christmas, it was suggested that a two-week national “circuit breaker” lockdown be implemented. If London’s daily admissions surpass 400 during this week,

Self-isolation is a popular Christmas gift for up to 1 MILLION Brits 

Nearly 900,000 people could be forced to spend Christmas Day in self-isolation after catching Covid in the past 10 days, MailOnline analysis shows.

A total of 766,000 people across the UK have tested positive for the virus since December 16 — the cut-off date for coming out of quarantine in time.

And current trends suggest 125,000 more Britons will be diagnosed today as the ultra-infectious Omicron variant pushes cases to record numbers, with more than 100,000 people testing positive daily for the last two days.

This means that around 9911,000 people may be prevented from seeing loved ones, going to Midnight Mass, or taking a Christmas Day Walk this Christmas.

There are thousands of people living in Scotland that don’t have the disease but who may be close to someone with it. They will also need compulsory quarantine starting tomorrow.

Social media users shared that they did not experience any or mild symptoms, such as runny noses. They also questioned the reason why festive celebrations were so disrupted again. Some said they will see relatives despite the negative test results.

Infected individuals in England may be allowed to return to their homes after seven days, provided they do not test positive for lateral flow.

The potential for 243,000 Covid-positive people to be released from quarantine at the right time is possible. Rest of the UK will remain in isolation for 10 days.

MailOnline analysis of London Covid admissions shows that one-third (127) of 386 patients tested positive for the disease after they arrived at hospital. 

For comparison, the proportion of “incidental admissions” was approximately 12 percent in the two last weeks of the Delta version at November’s end.   

Official figures today also showed that a record 1.7million people had Covid last week and the ten worst-hit by Covid areas in England are all within a three square mile radius in south London.

UK cases reached a new record high of 122,000. London, which has quickly become a hub for Omicron strains earlier in the month, is now being hit the hardest. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in twenty Londonites are infected with the strain.

The ten postcodes — all in Wandsworth and Lambeth — have an average infection rate of 3,819 cases per 100,000 people, more than quadruple the 838 per 100,000 in the rest of the country. 

To boost the nation, many will be sent texts by millions encouraging them to have a third shot on Boxing Day. More than 32 million doses of boosters and third doses were already administered.

Sajid Javid Health Secretary stated: “We’re texting Boxing Day to all eligible adults for a boost now.

“It’s never been more important to be protected with the booster. So whether you have it in between turkey sandwiches, or before Boxing Day fixtures, make sure the booster is a regular part of your holiday traditions.

“Millions of vaccine slot are available through Christmas calendar, so even if your booster is not activated and you receive this text, please take advantage and get vaccinated.

Omicron’s surge has also lead to international travel chaos as more than 3,000 flights were cancelled worldwide on the first Christmas getaway since 2019.

Airlines have struggled to find staff for their flights due to the spread of this variant. This caused a spike in cancellations.

FlightAware reports that more than 2,300 flights were grounded this morning, and an additional 1,556 were already cancelled.

The new strain also cancelled Christmas getaways for thousands of Britons following coronavirus restrictions imposed by destinations.

After Austria introduced new entry regulations, Crystal Ski, a winter sports operator has decided to cancel its December 27 departures to Austria.

Austria declared Wednesday that all arrivals from Britain will have to be quarantined for 10 days starting Saturday unless they are completely vaccinated, including a booster and have evidence from a negative PCR test.

The Netherlands was placed under lockdown from at least January mid-January. Germany joined France and banned UK tourists.

London became the epicentre of the UK's Omicron outbreak two weeks before the super mutant variant became dominant across the country and experts are treating trends in the city as a sign of what could come for England. Pictured, shoppers walking along Regent Street on December 24

London was the epicenter of Omicron in Britain’s UK two weeks prior to the super mutant strain becoming dominant. Experts are looking at trends in London as an indicator of future events for England. Pictured are shoppers strolling down Regent Street December 24, 2018.

Ryanair’s January capacity has been reduced by one-third.

Omicron spreads also saw. Christmas Eve shopping fell by 21% in 2019 compared with 2019, as Britons prefer to shop online.

 Springboard data showed that footfall in central London fell by almost a third (33.3%), compared to last Friday. City centres in the outside of London saw a 10% drop in visitors.

The day was 21% worse than 2019 for retail stores across the country, but it was still better than last year when more pandemic restrictions were in place. 

Retail parks in the UK did better than high street shops, as they increased footfall by almost 14%.

Springboard data also showed that footfall rose by 19.6% at shopping centres, while coastal towns saw a 26.3% rise and market towns a 14.3% increase.

According to senior medical professionals, low booster participation in ethnic group is extremely concerning.

New data shows that people from Africa, Pakistan, and the Caribbean have the lowest chances of receiving Covid-19 boosters or third doses.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that people 50 years and older in England received the lowest third dose of booster take-up in three groups: the Pakistani (42.2%) group, the black Caribbean (44.4%) group and the black African (45.4%).

A quarter to 25% of those of African Caribbean descent are not believed to have had a Covid vaccine shot by December 12. This is the largest percentage among all ethnicities.

A senior medic said that the figures, which were published on Friday, were 'deeply worrying'. Pictured: Dr Chaand Nagpaul

One senior doctor said the numbers, published Friday, were a ‘deeply troubling’. Pictured: Dr Chaand Nagpaul

Senior medics said the numbers, published Friday, were “deeply concerning”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, council chair at the British Medical Association, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: ‘This is deeply worrying because in many ways I fear a repetition of what happened in the first wave, where… we saw this rather alarming and disturbing disparity in illness and deaths amongst ethnic minorities from Covid.

“What we now know is that patients who become seriously ill and are admitted to hospital are people who were not vaccinated or who did not receive their boosters.

According to some ICUs, eighty percent of the patients haven’t been vaccinated.

The ONS found that Muslims had a 46.3 percent chance of receiving a booster, or third dose.

Also, the ONS stated that people in less privileged areas and individuals who are not employed or long-term unemployment, without qualifications, or who don’t own their homes, had lower take-up than those from more advantaged communities.

The non-disabled were less likely to sign up than people who claimed that they have limited or no daily activities.