Has Omicron peaked in the UK? Expert gives hopeful update in lockdown lifeline

Sajid Javid was not 'transparent' about Omicron data says expert

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In recent weeks the emergence of the Omicron variant has escalated the UK’s Covid crisis. Daily case numbers have rocketed – breaking records on several occasions – which in turn has led to the Government imposing new restrictions to help combat the spread of the strain. However, given that there is a natural lag before we can see the impacts of these measures, is there a legitimate train of thought that cases of Omicron might have peaked in the UK?

Has Omicron peaked in the UK?

At this point it’s difficult to say as we won’t realise the full impacts of the latest national restrictions for some days to come.

This is because a natural lag occurs in the data between when measures are introduced and the first signs that they are starting to affect the pandemic.

Indeed, this is the same type of lag that occurs between case numbers rising and how this impacts the number of hospitalisations – given the amount of time it takes for serious illness to affect an individual.

The ruling on NHS Covid passes came into effect on Wednesday, December 15, which in turn meant that all of Boris Johnson’s Plan B measures were now active.

For the fifth day in a row UK Covid cases have plateaued – 90,629 reported for Tuesday, December 21.

However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, believes that Omicron may have peaked in the UK.

Speaking to the MailOnline he said: ‘It’s not all doom and gloom, it does look like Omicron has stopped growing. The numbers over the last few days seem to have plateaued and maybe even be falling.

‘It’s a bit too soon to be absolutely sure about that, but if it is the case Boris Johnson will breathe a sigh of relief. We have to be a little bit careful because it’s only a few days.”

Nonetheless, officials from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) are reported to be pushing for further rules.

Notes that were leaked from a Sage meeting, over the weekend, have suggested that without intervention beyond current Plan B rules in England, hospital admissions could reach 3,000 a day.

Despite increasing pressure to act Mr Johnson announced on Tuesday that no further Covid rules would be brought in for England before Christmas.

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However, the Prime Minister has said that ministers “can’t rule out” any further measures after December 25, with Omicron spreading at a speed never seen before.

At previous points of the pandemic when case numbers have soared the Government has imposed national lockdowns.

Ultimately, it has been this type of action which has led to Covid cases peaking and then gradually dropping off.

National efforts by the vaccination programme has bought more time for the Government to analyse whether that measure is required, but until more data is collected it will remain unclear as to whether Omicron has peaked.

For Tuesday, December 21 the UK recorded a further 15,363 cases of Omicron – the largest daily increase that has been recorded to date.

In the three days prior to this daily numbers of the variant had risen by 8,044, 12,133 and 10,059 respectively.

Officially, the total number of UK Omicron cases stands at 60,508 – as of Tuesday, December 21 – although it’s feared that many more people have been infected.

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