The Covid crisis in Britain continued to rise today, despite the Omicron crisis spiralling. Cases are increasing by 20% over last week. Boris Johnson warned that the super-mutant variant of Omicron is becoming more transmittable.

The government reported that there had been 45,691 additional positive tests in the past 24 hour, an increase of 15% over last Tuesday’s number of 39,716.

Omicron may now account for nearly 2 per cent in all new infections according to experts, which means up to 1000 people might be getting sick every day.

However, the true toll is only 437, as only a small fraction of samples have been analysed. It is spreading in many parts of the country, according to health officials.

Hospital admissions remain flat despite cases still rising, up 0.7% on the week before. However they are likely to increase in the next few days due to infections. Already, death rates are rising by 13.2 percent to 180.

After Johnson, today’s Cabinet member, told ministers that Omicron doesn’t spread as easily as Delta. However, he acknowledged that the preliminary data suggested that Omicron might.

Although there were dire warnings of the imminent threat from Britain, ministers have publicly denied that No10 would resort to its Plan B strategy. This includes working at home with vaccine passports.

Today’s Mr Johnson official spokeswoman, however, suggested the possibility for another holiday lockdown and said that the Government would respond’swiftly if necessary.

However, real-life data indicates that this variant could be less severe than others. None of the recorded cases in the UK – which are just a fraction of the true toll – have been hospitalised, Health Secretary Sajid Javid revealed last night, mirroring reports from doctors in the ground zero of the outbreak in South Africa.

Omicron will continue to be a threat to the NHS, even though it may not prove more deadly than the other varieties. That is because the NHS has to deal with a large number of patients who are likely will become ill.

Scientists believe booster jabs will provide high protection against Omicron-related severe illness or death, even though vaccines are less effective in preventing it.

No10 last week announced that it will increase the booster program to 500,000 jabs daily and provide a third dose for all 53 million British adults before the end of January in order to protect against the coming wave. The scheme appears to be in a rut with only 330,000 doses being distributed across Britain. On average, only 378,000 people are administered daily.

Eminent epidemiologist Professor Tim Spector claimed infections of the highly evolved variant were doubling every two days. The above graph shows how the number of daily cases of Omicron could breach the 100,000 barrier before New Year's Day, if that pace continues

Professor Tim Spector was an eminent epidemiologist who claimed Omicron infections were increasing at a rate of doubling each day. If the current pace of Omicron infections continues, the graph above shows that Omicron cases could surpass 100,000 daily by New Year’s Day.

Sturgeon orders more Scots to work at home 

Scots today saw Nicola Sturgeon increase work at home orders. Businesses must ensure that people are not in offices.

MSPs were updated by the First Minister on Omicron’s threat.

Ms. Sturgeon insists that no restrictions on the north border of the country will be relaxed before Christmas amid fears of the mutant strain sweeping the country.

The leader of the SNP stated that this included instructions to work remotely when possible.

Ms. Sturgeon addressed employers directly, requesting that they allow their staff to return to the workplace if they had employees working remotely at the beginning of this pandemic.

Coronavirus chaos continues another day 

  • Johnson claimed that Britain’s Covid boost campaign is moving more quickly than anticipated, in spite of official data showing that the country still has a long way to go before it reaches its goal of reaching 500,000 per day.
  • The truth was that none of the over 100 partygoers were caught. OmicronNorwegian ChristmasParty is deemed the largest in the world coronavirus super-spreader event have fallen seriously unwell;
  • A study suggested wearing a face mask — regardless of how flimsy or tight-fitting it is — is better than social distancing at preventing you from catching Covid;
  • Nicola Sturgeon ramped up work from home orders for Scots — demanding businesses make sure people stay away from offices;
  • Scientists warn that side effects from the Covid jab may be almost as severe as the early signs of the virus.
  • Ofsted’s damning report found that nearly all children in England have fallen behind their education, and were suffering as a consequence of the Covid lockdown.
  • A man killed himself, his wife and three young girls after he faked a Covid jab certificate and feared his children would be taken away when it was discovered. 

Today’s figures show Britain dished out 329,165 boosters today, taking the total number of adults receiving a third dose up to 20.9million (36.4 per cent).

All eligible adults won’t be boosted at the current rate (around 380,000 boosters per day) until February 10,

The number of people dying with the virus took the UK’s total amount of fatalities within 28 days of catching the virus up to 145,826. 

Independent figures examining whether Covid was listed on the death certificate indicate that there are now 170,001 fatalities. 

According to Dr Jeffrey Barrett of the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s Covid surveillance, Omicron is likely to be the dominant UK strain “within weeks” rather than the months initially expected. 

Scientists had predicted yesterday that Omicron would be able to surpass Delta in mid-January. 

Dominic Raab echoed No10’s official stance in Cabinet meeting. He claimed that ministers did not want to introduce tougher Christmas curbs in spite of Omicron’s dramatic rise. He stated that he did not believe Plan B was necessary, as he said to BBC Radio 4’s Today program. ‘Why? The success of our vaccine programme. 

Updating his Cabinet on the latest situation this morning, the Prime Minister admitted it was too early to tell if the super-mutant strain was indeed worse but 'early indications' pointed in that direction

The Prime Minister updated his Cabinet this morning on the current situation. He acknowledged that it wasn’t too soon to know if super-mutant strain is worse, but said there were ‘early indicators’ in that direction.

In total, there are 46,000 Covid cases on average each day in the UK and data from the Covid Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) suggests the new strain is already behind around one in 66 of them, or 1.4 per cent

On average, 46,000 Covid patients are diagnosed each day in the UK. Covid Genomics UK Consortium data (COG UK) shows that around 1 in 666 cases, or 1.4%, is affected by the new strain.

This is the image that has sparked fear among scientists, prompted ministers to turbocharge the UK's booster vaccine rollout and seen the return of mask mandates in England. It details the new super-mutant Omicron variant's spike protein mutations which experts fear will make it the most infectious and vaccine-resistant strain yet. The graphic, released by the country's top variant monitoring team, also lays bare how it is far more evolved than even the world-dominant Delta strain, with nearly five times as many alterations on the spike

This image has caused fear in scientists and prompted ministers at the UK to accelerate the rollout of booster vaccines. In England, mask mandates have returned. The graphic details Omicron’s super-mutant Omicron variant and its spike protein mutations, which experts believe will make it more infectious and resistant to vaccines. This graphic was released by the nation’s leading variant monitoring team. It also shows how the strain is more advanced than the Delta strain. There are nearly five times the number of modifications to the spike. 

Boris Johnson claims that the slow booster rollout is progressing FASTER than expected 

Boris Johnson insists that Britain’s Covid booster program is progressing faster than anticipated, even though official data show the country has not met its 500,000 per-day goal.

The rollout appears to be stalling, despite No10 pinning its hopes of warding off the the impending Omicron wave on the programme.   

The Prime Minister last week promised to put the rollout on ‘steroids’ and ramp up the number of third doses delivered half a million, as well as open up the scheme to under-40s. Both have not happened.

Johnson answered questions about speed of booster program today and claimed that it had been completed ahead of schedule. He also suggested it might go even faster.

Reporters were told by him that the booster program is Europe’s fastest and that we have done more boosters in Europe than any other comparable country. However, it could still go much faster. 

“We are ahead of our timetable. We’ve done over 20 million boosters. I believe we have done three-quarters for people over 65.

Johnson said that he anticipated a booster acceleration after the programme was finally open to people under 40 next week.

According to him, “And ofcourse, starting Monday, we will contract the intervals so they go down to three month and that will result in a large uptake in the programme also.” 

Latest NHS data shows the UK is nowhere near the 500,000-a-day goal and is in fact delivering fewer booster jabs on some days than before Mr Johnson’s pledge.

Only 290,165 boosters had been rolled out on Sunday (the day that the most recent data are available). Comparatively, 285,333 boosters were rolled out the previous week.

With 464,616 administered on Saturday, the Government was closest to its target. This was slightly less than the 464,616 jabs that were administered the previous week, which saw 465,111 jabs being given. 

The current pace of 2.7million per day means that it may take until March to offer every Briton their third Covid vaccination. That’s well past the deadline set by the Government for January. 

Scientists believe booster jabs will provide high protection against Omicron-related severe illness or death, even though vaccines are less effective in preventing it.

No10 last week announced that the booster program will be increased to 500,000 jabs daily and that it will offer an additional dose of vaccine to every 53 million British adult by January. This is to protect against any incoming waves. 

The scheme is already in a bind with only 290,000. On average, only 378,000 people are administered daily.

Later, Johnson said that now was the right time for people to have a booster shot.

He stated that the booster program is Europe’s fastest; he believes we’ve done more boosters in Europe than any other comparable country. However, it could still go much faster.

He continued, “I would definitely say to people that this is the time to obtain it, and, of course from Monday, will we be contracting out the interval so that you reduce to three months, and that will result in a large uptake in the program as well.”

Omicron could trigger an epidemic of hospital admissions similar to the January 2021 peak, according to scientists. 

It appears that the virus can infect ex-Covid patients easily and UK Government experts believe it will make vaccines against infection up to 40% weaker.

Omicron could infect more people than it can kill, according to experts. 

Asked whether Omicron could infect more people but make fewer people sick, Professor Spector told BBC Breakfast: ‘If early reports pan out – we don’t absolutely know this, we’ve got hardly any data in this country where we have high rates of vaccination – but if we assume that it is not more severe and possibly milder than Delta, but it’s much more transmissible…

It means people who get the vaccine in large numbers will likely pass it on twice as fast than those who have it individually. This is good news for each individual, as we see fewer cases of the disease going to hospitals. Partly this can be attributed to our high vaccine rates.

“But it does mean that you may eventually die from the disease because almost everybody is either re-infected or infected.

“This means it is possible for the entire country to be worse news than for individuals. It’s not a reason to be complacent. 

In South Africa, there’s been a dramatic rise in Covid infections in the past fortnight after Omicron was alerted to its existence on November 24th.

Professor Spector of the Covid ZOEsymptom study stated that the UK may have Omicron in less than 10 days. This is contrary to the belief held by some other countries.

He stated that the official estimate is about 350 Omicron case, but because there are not many Omicron cases in the testing, the actual numbers would be between 1,000 and 2,000. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured arriving in Downing Street for No10's weekly Cabinet meeting this morning) warned the variant is now spreading domestically in multiple regions, with the official count now standing at 437 although none of those infected with it have been hospitalised

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab (pictured arriving in Downing Street for No10's weekly Cabinet meeting this morning) today claimed that ministers were not looking to bring in tougher Christmas curbs, working from home or vaccine passports, despite the sharp uptick in Omicron

Sajid Javid, Health Secretary (left), warned that the variant was now being spread domestically to multiple areas. The official count currently stands at 437. However, none of the infected have been admitted. Dominic Raab (right), Deputy Prime Minister of Omicron, said today that ministers did not want to introduce tougher Christmas curbs. He also claimed that they were not planning on introducing vaccine passports and working at home. Before the weekly Cabinet meeting, both ministers were pictured in Downing Street.

Mr Raab was more definitive than Boris Johnson (pictured running his dog Dilyn, a two-year-old Jack Russell-cross, in Westminster this morning) who yesterday refused to rule out tightening restrictions over the festive period, merely insisting that Christmas will be 'better' than last year

Boris Johnson was more decisive than Mr Raab (pictured with his two-year old Jack Russell-cross dog Dilyn in Westminster this morning). Yesterday, Johnson refused to exclude tightening holiday restrictions, but merely said that Christmas would be “better” than last year.

South Africa's cases have skyrocketed since Omicron was first discovered. Last month, the country recorded 358 daily cases, compared to the 6,381 registered today. The daily figure is the lowest since Tuesday, but is due to low testing rates over the weekend, with just 24,159 people swabbed yesterday. The positivity rate — the proportion of all tests conducted that are confirmed Covid cases — rose to a record 26.4 per cent

South Africa’s case numbers have risen dramatically since Omicron first became known. The country had 358 cases last month, which is compared with the 6,381 today. Although the daily number is lower than Tuesday’s, it is due in part to low weekend testing, which saw only 24,159 people being screened yesterday. The positivity rate — the proportion of all tests conducted that are confirmed Covid cases — rose to a record 26.4 per cent

Some 175 South Africans were hospitalised with the virus, up 121.5 per cent on the 79 people admitted to hospital last Monday. The number of patients in hospital with the virus is at 3,517, up 51.1 per cent in a week. Pictured: graph shows weekly Covid hospitalisations

The virus was found in 175 South Africans, an increase of 121.5 percent on the number of 79 patients admitted last Monday. In a single week, there are 3,517 people in hospitals with the virus. This is an increase of 51.1 percentage. The graph below shows the weekly Covid hospitalizations

Omicron super-strain was a Norwegian Xmas night out partygoer who had 120 people in their group. They all have MILD symptoms. 

The 100+ partygoers who were able to catch Omicron at the Norwegian Christmas party, which is believed to have been the largest coronavirus super-preader party in the world, did not become seriously ill.

According to doctors involved in the investigation, the symptoms of the infection are mild and include a headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and coughing.

Around 120 individuals who visited the Louise Restaurant & Bar in Oslo were positive for Covid. All of them are Omicron, but only 13 have been confirmed by a laboratory.

The infected included 70 employees from Scatec solar power, which were having a Christmas party. 50 of them were guests of the restaurant. Even though the party was in closed rooms, some guests said they mingled in the restaurant with other diners after 10:30 pm.

“Patient Zero” is a Scatec employee who recently returned to the Cape Town head office, where this variant is well-known. The day following the party, they tested positive. One other employee was also returning from South Africa.

The Oslo epidemic made international headlines. This was the first indication to Europe of the danger posed by the virus.

But Dr Tine Ravlo, a public health expert in the Norwegian capital involved in tracking the outbreak, said that so far ‘none have become severely ill and none of them have been treated in hospital’.

This development supports the hypothesis that Omicron may be less powerful than previous variants. It also matches reports by doctors from ground zero in South Africa about the Omicron outbreak. 

‘And we are expecting this to be doubling about every two days at the moment, so if you do your maths – say assumed it’s 1,000 at the moment, and you think it’s going to be doubling every two days, you can see that those numbers are going to be pretty (high) certainly in about 10 days time.’ 

Dominic Raab (Deputy Prime Minister) ruled out further Christmas restraints as he celebrated the success of Britain’s vaccination program in overcoming the Omicron crisis.

Today interviewed him and said that they were doing everything possible to address the threat. However, we have taken care not to create new risks or challenges.

When asked why Plan B was not being implemented by the government, he replied that he didn’t believe it necessary. Why? It’s because of the effectiveness of the vaccine program. We’ve got 118 million doses dispensed.’

Director of Covid-19, Dr Barrett at the Wellcome Institute said that Omicron still has many unanswered questions that would help determine the need for more curbs.

According to him, the Today program asked: “The critical question is, obviously, how many of these cases, which will probably be a lot, will result in severe disease?”

“And many people, including Dr Fauci, chief medical advisor to the US president), have hypothesized that this variant might be milder or less likely than other variants.

“I think that what we have so far seen in South Africa is compatible with that. However, it is too soon to tell. This variant is capable of infecting people who are either vaccinated, or were previously infected.

“We know that breakthrough or second infections in vaccinated people tend to be milder. Omicron has not been seen in severe cases so far. This could be because Omicron is infecting individuals with some immunity. Although this is good news, it’s too early to conclude that Omicron is milder than Delta.

Social distancing is more effective than wearing a mask in every situation 

Wearing a face mask — regardless of how flimsy or tight-fitting it is — is better than social distancing at preventing you from catching Covid, a study suggests.   

Research has shown that a cover can reduce the risk of getting hurt by as much as 225x, when compared with relying only on a 3-metre rule. 

Although masks were mandated in nearly every country at one point during the pandemic, the jury is still out about their effectiveness due to inconsistent evidence. 

The latest research, by a team of German and US experts, is the latest to conclude that wearing a face covering offers ‘enormously high’ protection. 

If you are able to stand for at least five minutes with an infected person and you do not wear a mask or stand apart from them, you have a 95% chance of contracting Covid. 

While it might take only 30 minutes for someone to feel the risk, it could be as quick as 30 minutes if they were to use a surgical face mask.

In the most ideal scenario, where both people wear a medical-grade FFP2 mask and are kept apart, the chance of transmission is just 0.4 per cent after an hour. 

Doctors in South Africa have insisted that most patients suffer only mild illness, with the US’ top Covid expert Dr Anthony Fauci claiming yesterday it ‘doesn’t look like there’s a great degree of severity to it’. 

British scientists have warned, however, against the notion that it’s a weaker strain. They warn that its ability to infect more people could cause significant problems for the NHS. 

One mathematical modeller predicted there could be up to 3,000 hospital admissions per day in the UK in January if Omicron takes off domestically — compared to the 4,000 per day at the peak last year. 

Dr Barrett reiterated the fact that the strain could be more severe than previously thought, but it could still pose a serious threat to the NHS.

He said, “The problem with this is that, even though it’s only a tiny fraction, that can still lead to problems.”

“It has a series of mutations in it genome that we have seen previously, but others we don’t know about. These make it bind to cells very tight to infect human cells.

“So it probably transmits and has also developed mutations at many positions that are well-known to hold the viruses’ antibodies.

“These have been altered, so it’s very likely that this disease will not be well-neutralized by vaccines.

“Again, that will be determined with laboratory data within a few weeks. However, the rapidity at which it moves through both countries that have been vaccinated and those with high levels of infection, such as South Africa, strongly suggests that it may be able to evade immunity.

He stated that he believes we can now state that the variant of Delta is spreading more rapidly in the UK, than that of the Delta. This was something that I didn’t know until recently. “I am quite certain that it will take over (Delta), probably within a matter of days. 

This came after former prime Minister Theresa May lambasted the Government for its Omicron response. May accused ministers, who she claimed put businesses at risk by stopping and starting sections of our economy’, of making it clear that they were not ready to deal with Omicron.

Last night in the Commons, Mrs May stated that Omicron seemed to cause less severe illness than other varieties and that the government should be learning to live with Covid. 

An annual vaccine is better than trying to stop the economy from starting, which can lead to jobs being lost and businesses falling apart.