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 - Sputnik International, 1920
Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

UK COVID-19 Cases Soar as Deaths Slump — Is This The Omicron Effect?

© REUTERS / KEVIN COOMBSCoronavirus in London
Coronavirus in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
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More than half the known worldwide cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus are in the UK, with 210,000 confirmed as of Tuesday. But the government, after raising the alarm in early December, has held back from ordering a fourth national lockdown.
New COVID-19 cases in the UK have hit a record high since the new Omicron variant arrived — but the number of deaths has plummeted.
The daily figure of positive tests hit 183,000 on Wednesday, far above anything seen before in Britain and four to five times the daily averages seen in the autumn.
© UK Health Security AgencyUK COVID-19 cases by date reported as of December 29 2021
UK COVID-19 cases by date reported as of December 29 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
UK COVID-19 cases by date reported as of December 29 2021
But the average number of deaths within four weeks of a positive test dipped way below 100 per day for the first time since August, down to 88, with the downward trend appearing to steepen.
© UK Health Security AgencyUK COVID-19 deaths within 28 days of positive test by date of death up to December 29 2021
UK COVID-19 deaths within 28 days of positive test by date of death up to December 29 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
UK COVID-19 deaths within 28 days of positive test by date of death up to December 29 2021
The latest statistics backed up expert assessments that the new Omicron variant, which the UK Health Security Agency estimates now accounts for 93 per cent of new infections, has far milder symptoms than the Delta variant it has supplanted.
More than half the known cases of the new strain worldwide are in the UK, with over 210,000 confirmed cases as of Tuesday.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has yet to order measures beyond requiring face masks in communal indoor spaces and on public transport, along with requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter venues that hold more than 500 people.
Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (red) infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (yellow), also known as novel coronavirus, isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.12.2021
Omicron COVID Strain
From Pandemic Plague to Seasonal Sniffle: How Viruses Mutate Into Milder Strains to Survive
Some media commentators questioned the need for government warnings and a return to lockdown restrictions in light of the figures — with some arguing that the virus has already mutated from a deadly pandemic into a common seasonal malady.
Government scientific advisory committee SAGE confirmed observations from South Africa that Omicron patients spend less time in hospital on average than those with previous variants.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid repeated the Government's mantra, urging those already vaccinated to join the 33 million who have already had a third booster jab — for the sake of the National Health Service.
Over 148,000 people in the UK have died after contracting COVID-19 since the virus reached its shores in January 2020, out of 12.5 million people known to have been infected.
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