People in hospital with Omicron …as minister says variant will ‘dominate and grow’

Even if the new strain proves to cause less severe symptoms than the Delta variant, high infection rates could still see tens of thousands of people needing medical treatment, the education secretary warns. There are people in hospital with Omicron, cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi has told Sky News.
The education secretary also said there were currently no plans to vaccinate primary school children and that Boris Johnson would be saying more about the coronavirus booster programme “later today”.
Even if the Omicron COVID-19 mutation proves to cause less severe symptoms than the Delta variant, high infection rates could still see tens of thousands of people end up in hospital, Mr Zahawi warned.
Dr Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser for the UK Health Security Agency, said they are getting reports of individuals going into hospital over the last few days with the variant.
“We have had reports of a small number of people going to hospital who have tested positive with the Omicron variant, we are investigating them carefully and will update in due course,” she said.
Mr Zahawi cautioned the new strain was “so infectious that it will dominate and exponentially grow”.
He said: “Let’s do a mathematic exercise for a second. You get to a million infections by say the end of December – 1% is 10,000 severe infections that could be in hospital.
“Three days later it is two million, three days later it is four million. Three days beyond that it is eight million.
“That is the risk, that even if it is milder, say 50% milder than Delta, then the numbers are huge – it is a small percentage of a very large population.” Referring to the reimposition of restrictions to help curb the spread of the highly-contagious variant, Mr Zahawi said: “The reason we are taking these proportionate, I think precautionary measures – the most significant thing, scientists tell us, is the work from home, that has the greatest impact on slowing down Omicron, hence why we’ve had to take these measures.”
Speaking as the booster programme was extended to the over 30s, Mr Zahawi said: “It is now a race between the booster and that protection, and the Omicron variant.”

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