Scientists are pushing for tougher lockdown measures to stop Omicron causing record hospitalisations.
Boris Johnson has been warned by SAGE experts that ‘Plan B’ restrictions do not go far enough in preventing the latests Covid-19 variant ravaging the NHS.
Instead scientists propose shutting down all crowded events and a return to pubs only serving punters outside.
It is feared that the virus will infect 50,000 NHS doctors, nurses and more hospital staff by Christmas Day, forcing them off work and into isolation.
BMA Council Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul warned the ravaged staffing numbers would lead to appointments and operations being cancelled, adding: “We’re already seeing services being affected by staff absences, and these estimates show it could get far, far worse.“
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Saturday declared a "major incident" as the virus tore through the capital, the Mirror reports.
A COBRA meeting will be held on Sunday to discuss financial assistance for businesses and contingency planning for vital public services brought to their knees by staff absences.
On Saturday 90,418 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded on Saturday, the second highest figure on record.
A total of 900 people were admitted to hospital, bringing the weekly total to 6,056 – and 125 died within 28 days of testing positive for the disease.
Papers published on Saturday revealed that because of the delay in testing and registering new cases, the number of daily infections is “almost certainly” in the hundreds of thousands already.
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And because of the time it takes for an infection to turn into serious illness, the number of hospitalisations could be ten times higher than they appear at the moment.
The documents warn crowded indoor mixing is the “biggest risk factor” for the spread of the virus – and large gatherings risk becoming super-spreader events.
And even if the Omicron variant is half as severe as the previous Delta strain, scientists believe it’s “plausible” that the unprecedented infection figures will quickly turn into hospital admissions higher than any previous peak.
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Officials are understood to be preparing scenarios for a fresh round of restrictions, but none have yet been presented to ministers.
It’s understood Number 10 is waiting for more hard data on hospitalisations and vaccine effectiveness, expected between Christmas and New Year, before making the decision.
But scientists fear that even delaying until after Boxing Day while infections double every two days, will guarantee a dramatic wave of hospitalisations in the new year, and urged the government to act sooner.
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