Coronavirus cases are ‘plating off’ in areas first hit by Omicron, with hospital admissions ‘slowing down’ in other parts of the country, experts have said.
Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said infection levels in London, the southeast and east of England are flattening out.
She said while the number of cases continues to rise in more northern parts of the country, the rate of growth there is slowing.
Follow the latest coronavirus updates
‘We are seeing infections leveling off in the community, which is good, in London and the south east and east of England,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Saturday. .
“There are still uprisings, but much slower in the north of the country.”
On Friday, the UK’s R (reproduction) number was estimated at between 1.1 and 1.5, which means that the epidemic continues to grow.
But daily infection growth has fallen slightly – now +1% to +5%, from +3% to +6%.
COVID hospital admissions are ‘slowing down’
Dr Hopkins added that hospital admissions are ‘slowing’ and, although not decreasing, trusts have been able to discharge patients ‘faster’ due to Omicron being relatively milder than the other variants.
She stressed that the NHS remains under “a lot of pressure”, with around 2,000 new covid patients admitted daily across the country.
Many are “unable to do much of their elective care” due to high levels of COVID staff absences.
Hospital data is a ‘great source of optimism’
But Dr Chris Smith, consultant virologist at the University of Cambridge, said the latest coronavirus the hospital data gives him “big reason to be optimistic”.
“The number of people going into intensive care or being on mechanical ventilation beds is actually down. It has remained stable,” he told BBC Breakfast.
He also claimed around 96 per cent of people in the UK now have antibodies, either from vaccines or natural infection, meaning the majority can ‘ward off’ the virus.
Judging by the current data suppression, plan B seems increasingly likely
COVID cases appear to be stabilizing in large parts of the UK, as speculation grows about the lifting of Plan B restrictions in England.
Figures from London, which first rode the Omicron wave, show infections are starting to level off. A similar trend can be seen in the South East and East of England.
Even in parts of northern England where cases continue to rise, data suggests the rate of growth is starting to slow.
The number of cases is still very high, with one in 15 infected in England and one in 20 in other parts of the UK.
The big difference between this wave is the vaccine and a greater level of immunity.
This is clear if you look at the number of people admitted to hospital. The current numbers, more than 2,000 a day, are much lower than last year at this time.
Also, the numbers seem to be slowing down.
Hospitals may not be overwhelmed, but they are under enormous pressure, with some areas struggling with high staff absences.
Many are now asking if the government will lift the current restrictions in England on January 26. Judging by the current data, that seems increasingly likely.
The next question is more difficult, how close are we to the end of the pandemic?
Simply put, have we reached an acceptable stage of the virus? Given the large number of infections, that doesn’t seem to be the case yet, but we definitely seem to be heading in the right direction.
The number of reported daily COVID cases fell below 100,000 for the first time since Dec. 21 on Friday.
On Saturday, it was again below this level – at 81,713. 287 other deaths were recorded.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the government plans to lift Plan B measures in England from January 26.
But reports claim the rules on mask-wearing could stay in place.
In Wales, data permitting, work from home guidelines will be lifted and nightclubs will reopen on January 28.