MAPS show how rapidly Omicron has become dominant in England, as record-high infections puts pressure on the workforce
The strain became the most prominent variant in the UK in a matter of weeks and now accounts for 90 per cent of cases.
The Wellcome Sanger Institute’s maps illustrate the spread of Omicron across England over a timeline.
It shows that Omicron became the most dominant strain faster than any other – including Delta and Alpha.
Most authorities of the country are now a deep purple shade on the map dated December 25 – the most recent – compared to just a week earlier, on December 18.
But the positive news is that a string of studies show Omicron is milder than other strains, with data revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions and protect the NHS.
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Boris Johnson has suggested he is set to stick with Plan B measures in England – despite acknowledging the NHS was currently “overwhelmed”.
While hospital admissions are not rising as drastically as other waves, there are concerns over staff absences due to Covid infections.
Looking at the Sanger map by genomes per week, the map shows that London continues to be the most Omicron-riddled part of England.
Other hotspots include Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and Manchester.
Data from the Government coronavirus dashboard, which is more up to date and covers all the UK, shows that Derry in Northern Ireland has the highest case rate.
It recorded almost 3,700 new cases per 100,000 people in seven days, followed by Fermanagh and Omagh with 2,900.
Three Welsh authorities – Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent – place third, fourth and fifth place with between 2,500 and 2,630 cases per 100,000.
The highest case load in England is in St Helens, which had 2,430 new cases per 100,000 in the most recent update.
It was followed by the North West authorities of Knowsley, Wigan, Halton and Sefton, each with some 2,300 new cases per 100,000.
Other hotspots include:
- Newry, Mourne and Down
- Mid Ulster
- Neath Port Talbot
- Vale of Glamorgan
STATE OF OUTBREAK
Yesterday more than 200,000 daily Covid cases were recorded in England and Scotland for the first time on Tuesday.
More than 200,000 Covid cases were recorded in England and Scotland for the first time on Tuesday.
Hospital patients in England are the highest since February 2021, with a rise of 58 per cent in one week.
Experts say that patients tend to stay in hospital for fewer days than previous waves, and are less likely to need ICU care.
However, the pressures are coming from the fact staff absences are unusually high due to so many nurses and doctors off sick with the virus.
The staffing situation in hospitals is said to be “almost impossible”, according to Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation representing health bodies.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme said 10 per cent of staff were off work on average compared with an average of five per cent in winter.
It means hospitals could not sustain a normal level of service, Mr Taylor said, with many NHS trusts in Greater Manchester having to cancel non-urgent operations.
The Government said it is continuing to follow the data over the spread of coronavirus and is listening to scientists and experts.
Boris Johnson said at last night’s Downing Street press briefing that there is a “good chance” he will not impose fresh restrictions moving forward.
He backed sticking with Plan B measures despite acknowledging parts of the NHS will feel “temporarily overwhelmed”.
The PM said: “So together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.”
But Mr Johnson will face scrutiny over his hope to “ride out” the wave of Omicron.
He will also be braced for anger from Tory MPs today who oppose the current Plan B measures of mandatory masks and vaccine passports.
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