London: Crowds fill Parliament Square for covid protest
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Amid high numbers of cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Saturday revealed the bleak picture painted by advisers throughout December as the threat from the strain rose. Advice included that indoor mixing is the “biggest risk factor” for the spread of the variant of coronavirus, and that large gatherings risked creating “multiple spreading events”.
Meanwhile while the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O), said in documents released on Saturday but dated December 8 that in almost all modelling “a significant reduction in transmission (similar in scale to the national lockdown implemented in January 2021 and the pingdemic” in July 2021) is required to keep hospitalisations below the height of previous peaks”.
The advice from 10 days ago adds: “Earlier intervention also reduces the wave of hospitalisations.”
Minutes from a Sage meeting on Thursday said stricter measures could be needed including “reducing group sizes, increasing physical distancing, reducing duration of contacts and closing high-risk premises”.
The experts warned that even if transmission rates were reduced, hospital admission levels were likely to be between 1,000 and 2,000 per day in England by the end of the year.
And modelling showed that if ministers stuck to the current Plan B measures, there would be a peak of 3,000 per day.
It comes as the number of deaths in England of people with the Omicron variant has risen to seven, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said, from the previous figure of one.
Hospital admissions in England for people with confirmed or suspected Omicron rose to 85, from 65.
The UKHSA said there had been 10,059 additional confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 reported across the UK.
This brings the total confirmed cases of the variant in the UK to 24,968.
The documents said: “Some scenarios have significantly worse outcomes during the first few months of 2022 but there are many uncertainties.”
And the ramping up of the booster programme would not help, as many of those admissions would be those who are infected now.
(More to follow)
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