A top scientist has warned the Omicron wave is coming in “alarmingly fast” and more than 1m people will be forced to self-isolate this Christmas.
The UK’s Health Security Agency (UKSHA) chief executive, Dr Jenny Harries warned on Wednesday that the highly infectious Omicron variant is “probably the most significant threat we’ve had since the start of the pandemic.”
On Tuesday the UK recorded 59,610 cases and a fifth was said to be Omicron, which could be far higher, The Times reported.
Almost 100,000 Omicron cases will be confirmed by Christmas Eve as Minister’s have said the rate is doubling every two days and around 1m people will face a lonely Christmas Day.
Christmas is ten days away and anyone who tests positive from today must self-isolate on Christmas Day.
On Tuesday, UKSHA chief medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins told the Science and Technology Committee, “We have been studying this virus for three weeks today and in that time period we have shown that in the UK this is growing very fast, with a growth rate initially two to three days and that growth rate seems to be shortening, rather than lengthening, at the moment.
“If we have a million infections a day, even a very small proportion of those individuals requiring hospitalisation will put a significant impact on healthcare,” Dr Hopkins added.
She warned that if the government’s modelling was correct, restrictions may be necessary for the next four to eight weeks and warned of a “very difficult” month ahead.
Dr Hopkins also urged people to take lateral flow tests before socialising to reduce the risk of transmission, but for the third day running these tests have run out.
Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine warned that is a “real possibility” hospital admissions could hit 2,000 every day.