Covid LIVE: Boris under pressure as over-60 case rates soar – ‘too late’ to halt new surge

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Professor Christina Pagel, director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit has warned that it is “too late” to prevent a winter surge of hospitalisations and that under current Plan B measures, projections are for hospital admissions to exceed that of the last peak in January 2021.  In a tweet, Professor Pagel said: “Under current Plan B measures, projections are for hospital admissions to exceed last Jan peak – and potentially quite a bit higher. Also that it’s too late now to prevent those outcomes.” Professor Graham Medley, who leads Sage’s pandemic modelling group has said that while studies have shown Omicron to be milder than Delta, it is uncertain whether this will limit hospital admissions among the elderly. He said: “The evidence of lower severity of Omicron infections compared to Delta largely comes from infections in younger people,” he said. “As the Omicron virus starts to move into older people in the UK, that reduction might not continue.” His fears were echoed by Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at UKHSA who said that rising cases in the over 60s meant that it was “highly likely that there will be significant pressure on the NHS in coming weeks”.

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Chris Whitty to be knighted

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty’s work to tackle the Covid pandemic has been recognised in the Queen’s new year’s honours list, with the epidemiologist set to be knighted. 

The Chief Medical Officers for Scotland and Wales, Dr Gregor Smith and Dr Frank Atherton, are also to be given knighthoods, as is the deputy medical officer for England, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam.

The head of the UK Health Security Agency, Dr Jenny Harriesdame.

The UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has also been elevated to the Order of the Bath.

Australia begins 2022 with record Covid cases

Australia has entered 2022 with a record number of COVID-19 cases.

Health department figures show that both New South Wales and Victoria both reported a record 22,577 and 7,442 cases respectively on Saturday.

There were four further COVID-19 deaths reported in New South Wales and nine in Victoria, taking the national death toll from the pandemic to more than 2,250.

 Since Christmas Day, cases in New South Wales have more than tripled from 6,288.

COVID Hospitalisations have more than doubled to 901 from 388 and the number of people in intensive care units has risen by around 50 percent to 79.

The outbreak has affected sporting events, with Australia batsman Travis Head  set to miss the fourth Ashes cricket test against England in Sydney next week after testing positive for the virus. 

New Covid restrictions will be last resort, says Health Secretary

New Covid restrictions will be a last resort, the UK’s Health Secretary has said. 

Sajid Javid said that although hospitalisations are rising, the number of people in intensive care remains stable. 

In an article published in Saturday’s Daily Mail newspaper, Mr Javid wrote: “Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort.

“We must give ourselves the best chance of living alongside the virus and avoiding strict measures in the future.

“Numbers in intensive care units are stable and not currently following the trajectory we saw this time last year during the Alpha wave.”

However, Mr Javid acknowledged that the rapid spread of Omicron will inevitably put huge strain on the NHS in the coming months. 

He said: “This is likely to test the limits of finite NHS capacity even more than a typical winter.”

Good morning

Good morning, I’m Olivia Stringer and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments on Coronavirus, for the next eight hours. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

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