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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.

NHS Chief Says Don’t Panic — as BoJo Warns Britons to Get COVID-19 Booster

© REUTERS / MAY JAMESRoyal London Hospital amid COVID-19 outbreak, in London
Royal London Hospital amid COVID-19 outbreak, in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.12.2021
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Soaring COVID-19 case numbers since the outbreak of the Omicron variant in the UK have not translated into an increase in deaths, which are in fact falling. But the government is still urging the public to have their third doses of the vaccine.
The head of the National Health Service (NHS) hospitals body has insisted there is no need for COVID-19 lockdown measures — despite rising hospitalisations.
Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers which represents public hospitals, ambulance services and other healthcare trusts, told Friday's edition of The Times that unlike earlier in the pandemic, few of the nearly 12,000 patients in hospital with the virus were seriously ill pensioners.
He said the the "threshold" for further restrictions had not yet been reached despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant since its arrival in the UK on November 27.
"Trust chief executives are saying we should be careful interpreting the daily Covid hospital data," Hopson said. “Although the numbers are going up and going up increasingly rapidly, the absence of large numbers of seriously ill older people is providing significant reassurance."
"Trust CEOs know that the government has a high threshold to cross before it will introduce extra restrictions and can see why, in the absence of that surge of severely ill older people, that threshold hasn't been crossed yet."
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) reported another record high of over 189,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday evening — roughly one-in-eight of the 1.5 million people getting tested daily.
Another 332 deaths within four weeks of testing positive were added to the figures, but only due to a backlog of reporting over the Christmas. True daily mortality continued to fall to an average of less than 100 per day — the same level as in early October, two months before the Omicron outbreak.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty brandished estimates by the Office for National Statistics that one in 25 people in England had been infected in the week before Christmas, warning: "The wave is still rising and hospital admissions are going up."
According to The King's Fund, the NHS has a total of around141,000 hospital beds, 5,900 of which are classed as 'critical care'.
Coronavirus in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.12.2021
Omicron COVID Strain
UK COVID-19 Cases Soar as Deaths Slump — Is This The Omicron Effect?
Hopson's comments came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a New Year's Eve message warning the public that they could end up in hospital if they do not get a third booster jab.
"I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated. The people who think the disease can't hurt them. Look at the people going into hospital now — that could be you," Johnson warned. "Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster. That could be you."
"So make it your New Year's resolution, far easier than losing weight or keeping a diary, find a walk-in centre or make an on-line appointment," the PM added. "Get that jab and do something that will make 2022 a happy new year for us all."
The booster campaign has accelerated since Johnson and Whitty's warnings over the Omicron variant in early December. 33.5 million people — 58 per cent of the eligible population over 12 — had received their third doses as of Thursday evening, way over the original target of 30 million.
On Wednesday Johnson claimed that nine out of 10 patients in hospital intensive care units had not had the booster — although a Downing Street spokesman later clarified that he was repeating "anecdotal" information from only "some NHS trusts".
UKHSA statistics show that only a quarter of those in hospital with the new Omicron variant are unvaccinated, while around 45 per cent per cent of all emergency hospital admissions have not been immunised.
And the Mail Online recently reported that two-thirds of COVID-19 cases in hospital only tested positive after admission, and up to 40 per cent of infected patients in London were in fact in hospital for other reasons.
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