Covid news UK: Omicron cases down 45% amid new test rules as data 'shows London past peak' thanks to vaccine rollout

DAILY Covid cases have dropped 45 per cent in a week- another positive sign that the Omicron variant is gradually slowing.

A further 120,821 infections were announced this afternoon by the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA), compared with a record high of 218,724 reported seven days ago.

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

Meanwhile, Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, said officials are starting to see a decrease in Covid prevalence in the capital.

“We think we may have passed or are at the peak,” he told Sky News on Sunday morning.  Data from the ONS [Office for National Statistics] suggests that the peak may have occurred at or just about New Year period and we’re seeing reductions in overall case rates across the city and the prevalence of infections within the community.”

Read our covid live blog below for the latest news and updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    Third jab reduces chances of serious illness

    A raft of positive studies show that Omicron causes a much milder illness than Delta.

    A third jab also significantly slashes the risk of falling seriously ill – and The Sun’s Jab’s Army campaign is helping get vital boosters in people’s arms.

    The impact of vaccines is clear when looking at the data for ventilators. 

    Some 860 people in the UK are on a ventilator compared to the January 2021 peak of 4,077.

    In fact, the number of Covid patients on ventilators in England alone dropped to its lowest level since October last year.

    Ministers say the combination of boosters and Plan B measures are “working” and are not expected to announce fresh measures.

  • Joseph Gamp

    London ‘clearly past the peak’ of Omicron (continued…)

    The Government coronavirus dashboard shows that since Christmas, London has seen case rates come down almost every day by small increments.

    The “peak” level was reached on December 23, at 2,042.3 per 100,000.

    This has come down to 1,801.4 per 100,000 as of January 4 – the most recent date that information is available for cases by date of test. 

    Official records show as of January 8, daily infections are starting to fall in the South East and East of England too.

  • Joseph Gamp

    London ‘clearly past the peak’ of Omicron as cases slow in rest of country

    LONDON is “clearly past the peak” of Omicron, experts say, while cases are slowing in the rest of the country.

    The fast-spreading mutant variant caused chaos over the festive period, with millions of infections – but there are signs this was the worst of it.

    Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England’s regional director for London, said officials are starting to see a decrease in Covid prevalence in the capital.

    “We think we may have passed or are at the peak,” he told Sky News on Sunday morning. 

    “Data from the ONS [Office for National Statistics] suggests that the peak may have occurred at or just about New Year period and we’re seeing reductions in overall case rates across the city and the prevalence of infections within the community.”

    “Remember that infection levels are still very, very high… It means that we’re not yet out of this critical phase of the pandemic, although we may well be past the peak.

  • Joseph Gamp

    New Omicron epicentre emerges

    A NEW Omicron epicentre has emerged and this interactive map reveals if your local area is a hotspot for infections.

    Coronavirus cases have risen in 242 areas in the last seven days and there are five areas where infections have climbed at a rapid rate.

    Cases have fallen in just 134 areas in the seven days to January 7 and the map above shows current infection rates, with an epicentre of infections forming in the North East of England.

    Derry City & Strabane in Northern Ireland continues to have the highest rate of Covid infections in the UK, with 6,065 new cases in the seven days to January 6, the equivalent of 4,013.7 per 100,000 people.

    This is up from a rate of 3,777.4 for the seven days to December 30.

    Fermanagh & Omagh in Northern Ireland has the second highest rate, up from 2,922.4 to 3,309.3, with 3,883 new cases.

    Figures for Northern Ireland as a whole show that six additional deaths were recorded yesterday, with a further 2,706 cases.

  • Joseph Gamp

    The path out of the pandemic

    It comes as an expert has said the UK is the closest of any country in the northern hemisphere to exiting the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Professor David Heymann, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), suggested in a Chatham House online briefing that the UK was seeing the disease become endemic.

    He said: "In general, now, the countries that we know best in the northern hemisphere have varying stages of the pandemic.

    "And probably, in the UK, it's the closest to any country of being out of the pandemic if it isn't already out of the pandemic and having the disease as endemic as the other four coronaviruses."

  • Joseph Gamp

    Dr Nikki Kanani: Please come forward for your jab

    Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy for the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, said "almost eight in 10 eligible adults" are now boosted.

    She said: “If you haven’t yet had your first, second or booster dose, please do come forward…

    "We know this provides the best protection from coronavirus and trusted healthcare professionals are on hand to answer any questions you may have.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    Has Omicron peaked in London?

    Asked whether the Omicron wave is over in London but not elsewhere in the country, Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that at the moment the testing capacity issues, and the Christmas and the new year, mean that we can’t really rely on cases to tell us what’s going to happen exactly.

    “At the moment we are seeing a relatively high number of admissions, how long that continues, whether that goes up or goes down, I think is unknown at the moment.”

    He said the Omicron virus itself is “less severe” than Delta but it is “just as threatening” due to its transmissibility.

    Pressed on whether the nation was moving away from a situation where Covid-19 was an “emergency”, Prof Medley said: “I think that that transition is absolutely true. It can’t be an emergency forever.

    “So at some point it will have to stop being an emergency but that is likely to be a phase out rather than an active point in time where somebody can declare the epidemic over.

    “It’s going to fade out and disappear much more slowly than that I think.”

  • Joseph Gamp

    Latest UK Covid vaccine figures

    A total of 51,992,559 first doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been delivered in the UK by January 10, Government figures show.

    This is a rise of 17,954 on the previous day.

    Some 47,745,458 second doses have been delivered, an increase of 26,728.

    A combined total of 35,813,659 booster and third doses have been given, a day-on-day rise of 149,495.

    Separate totals for booster and third doses are not available.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Some 500 former teachers sign up to help tackle staff shortages

    Around 500 former teachers have signed up with supply agencies to tackle staff shortages in England's schools, data suggests.

    It comes after Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi urged ex-teachers to temporarily return to the profession to help with Covid-19 absences.

    Initial data published by the Department for Education (DfE) – from around 10% of supply agencies – suggests 485 former teachers have signed up.

    Meanwhile, a further 100 of Teach First alumni – who trained to become teachers through their programme but now work outside the profession – have "expressed an interest" in supporting the workforce.

    But heads' unions said the numbers "barely scratch the surface" and are "a drop in the ocean" compared to the challenge caused by the Omicron variant.

    The warning comes after the DfE estimated that one in 12 (8.6%) of teachers and school leaders in England – around 44,000 of staff – were absent at the start of term last week, up from 8.0% on December 16.

    Meanwhile, some 4.9% of teachers and school leaders were off school due to Covid-related reasons on January 6, up from 3.0% on December 16.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Omicron IS milder than other Covid strains, studies show

    A string of positive studies show Omicron is milder than other strains, with data revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

    Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

    The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions and protect the NHS.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Daily Covid cases drop 45 percent in a week

    DAILY Covid cases have dropped 45 per cent in a week in further signs the Omicron outbreak is on the way out.

    A further 120,821 infections were announced this afternoon by the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA), compared with a record high of 218,724 reported seven days ago.

    The January 4 data included extra cases and death that went unreported from Northern Ireland and Wales over the New Year bank holiday.

    But today's figures still mark a huge drop in case numbers week-on-week, indicating the country could be moving past the peak.

  • Joseph Gamp

    Pupil and staff absences from England schools rises after Xmas

    The number of pupils and teachers out of school for Covid-related reasons in England has risen as Omicron cases spread, Government figures show.

    The Department for Education (DfE) estimates that 3.9% of all pupils – around 315,000 children – were not in class for reasons connected to coronavirus on January 6 – which is a record high for this school year.

    This was up from approximately 301,000 children, or 3.7% of all pupils, on December 16, just before the Christmas holidays.

    The latest data shows 8.6% of teachers and school leaders – around 44,000 of staff – were absent at the start of term, up from 8.0% on December 16.

    Meanwhile, some 4.9% of teachers and school leaders were off school due to Covid-related reasons on January 6, up from 3.0% on December 16.

    Among pupils absent for Covid-19 reasons, the main reason was a confirmed case of coronavirus, with around 159,000 pupils (2.0%) off for this reason, compared to approximately 111,000 pupils before Christmas.

  • Joseph Gamp

    PM facing mounting Tory anger over lockdown drinks party allegations

    A growing number of Tories have lashed out at the Prime Minister amid fresh allegations he attended a rule-breaking drinks party in Downing Street during the first national lockdown.

    The news has drawn fury from MPs and other prominent Conservative figures, while former No 10 chief of staff Lord Barwell ridiculed the PM on social media – suggesting it would not take an investigation for Boris Johnson to figure out if he had been part of the gathering.

    Police are in contact with the Cabinet Office over the claims, which came to a head on Monday night.

    It has been alleged that a senior aide to Mr Johnson organised a "bring your own booze" event in the garden behind No 10 on May 20, 2020.

    Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister's principal private secretary, sent an email to more than 100 Downing Street employees inviting them to the evening gathering, ITV reported.

    Mr Reynolds said they should "make the most of the lovely weather", despite England being under tough coronavirus restrictions banning groups from meeting socially outdoors when the message was sent.

  • Louis Allwood

    Places you are most likely to get Covid

    A SAGE study has listed the activities most likely to lead people to catch Covid and they are:

    • Shopping – 2.18 per cent
    • Playing a sport outdoors – 1.36 per cent
    • Using a bus – 1.31 per cent
    • Eating at a restaurant or cafe – 1.29 per cent
    • Using public transport more than once a week – 1.28 per cent
    • Going to a pub, bar or club – 1.28 per cent
    • Going to a party – 1.27 per cent
    • Going to a gym or indoor sports – 1.27 per cent
    • Leaving home for work – 1.2 per cent
    • Using a taxi – 1.19 per cent
    • Using an overground train or tram – 1.18 per cent

    Covid lateral flow tests for sale on Facebook and eBay for up to £100

    The tests have found their way on to Facebook and eBay for a price – despite being free to Brits.

    Some have even popped up at an auction house in Stockport as the shortage grips the UK, MEN reports.

    Simon Charles Auctioneers and Valuers had four job lots of tests due to go under the hammer this week.

    Each contained up to 20 kits – with bids of around £5 already floating around as revellers tried to grab one before last night’s New Year celebrations.

    Other “unused and sealed” tests have appeared on Facebook for as much as £100.

    One shameless user was slammed for trying to flog the kits on social media for £5 each.

    Posting on the Didsbury M20 group, they wrote: “12 lateral flow tests for sale. £5 per box but will do deal for more than 1.”

    • Louis Allwood

      What should you do if you have Covid symptoms?

      You should always get a follow-up PCR test if you have symptoms of the coronavirus, regardless of your lateral flow test result. 

      The NHS lists the three classic signs of Covid as a new, persistent cough, a high temperature and loss of smell or taste.

      But many more including cold-like symptoms are now accepted as signs you could have the virus.

      Experts have said, if you feel under the weather at all, do a test.

    • Louis Allwood

      Bereaved daughter ‘feels sick’ over Boris Johnson lockdown party claims

      The daughter of a key worker who died after contracting Covid-19 has said it makes her “feel sick” to think Boris Johnson was “partying” on the day her father’s death certificate was signed.

      Hannah Brady, a spokeswoman for the Covid-10 Bereaved Families for Justice Group, said her father Shaun, who worked at the Kraft Heinz factory in Wigan, died four days before an email was sent out by the Prime Minister’s private secretary appearing to organise drinks in the garden of Number 10.

      Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, sent an email to more than 100 Downing Street employees in May 2020 saying they should “make the most of the lovely weather”, despite England being under tough Covid-19 restrictions.

      ITV reported the party took place on May 20 2020 and alleged it was attended by the Prime Minister and his wife Carrie.

      Ms Brady said her father was 55 and fit and healthy when he contracted Covid, and she and her family had done “everything they could” to keep him safe during lockdown.

    • Louis Allwood

      Spain holiday warning

      BRITS on holiday in Tenerife will face increased Covid restrictions as the island moves to a new Level 4 alert.

      The alert came into operation at midnight and will see increased restrictions as the Canary government tries to curb the spread of Omicron.

      The rule of six has returned, meaning just six people can meet up indoors or outdoors.

      Covid passports must be shown to get inside all establishments, and pubs and restaurants have to close at midnight.

      Capacity levels have been cut to 75 per cent outdoors and 33 per cent indoors to avoid superspreader events.

      Public transport capacity has also been cut to 75 per cent.

      The measures will remain until at least January 24, when they will be reviewed again.

      The Canary government has raised the alert after analysing health data and the increasing pressure on hospitals.

    • Louis Allwood

      Nicola Sturgeon gives warning to Scots

      The First Minister suggested face coverings will be the price for lifting other restrictions and living with Covid.

      Her stance in in stark contrast with that of Boris Johnson, who wants to start lifting curbs in England by the end of this month.

      The SNP leader has introduced much harsher measures on Scots in the battle against Omicron.

      They include social distancing at pubs and restaurants, closing nightclubs, and crowd limits of 500 at football games.

      She claims the move has helped stop the virus, even though Scotland's infection rates are higher than England's.

      And the First Minister is under growing pressure to ease restrictions and bring her approach into line with the PM's.

    • Louis Allwood

      Covid symptoms

      Experts at ZOE had previously compiled a list of the top 21 Covid symptoms – with rashes coming in at number 10.

      As variants have progressed and changed this list has also changed, and the top symptoms to look out for are currently listed as:

      • runny nose
      • headache
      • sneezing
      • sore throat
      • persistent cough
      • fatigue
      • loss of taste and smell

      First sign of Omicron that you will not miss

      Doctors have said that one of the first signs of Omicron can be detected in your throat.

      The NHS still state that the three main symptoms of coronavirus are a new persistent cough, a loss of taste and smell and a high temperature.

      Data from the ZOE Symptom Tracker app shows that these symptoms are no longer the leading signs and doctors working in hospitals and monitoring Covid patients have evidence that says otherwise.

      Dr Jorge Moreno who works at an outpatient clinic in Connecticut, US and is an assistant professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, said that most patients coming in are reporting the same ailment.

      He told Insider that most people testing positive have a dry, sore throat that causes sharp pain when they swallow.

      "It's a very prominent symptom. It's not like a little tickle in the throat. If they're reporting it, they're saying that their throat feels raw", he said.

      • Louis Allwood

        Djokovic could face JAIL for ‘lying on his Australia travel form’ (Continued…)

        Tennis ace Djokovic – who is based in Monte Carlo – was filmed playing tennis in the streets of the Serbian capital Belgrade on December 25.about:blank

        A picture shared on Twitter also shows him beaming beside handball player Petar Djordjic in Belgrade the same day.

        Then days later, the 34-year-old was reportedly filmed training in Spain on December 31 and posing for a group photograph the same day.

        Djokovic was also snapped player football in Marbella, Spain, with his brother Marko and a coach on January 4.

        Those dates fall within the 14-day period before the reigning Australian Open champ touched down in Melbourne late on January 5, having flown out from Spain via Dubai.

        But on his Australian Travel Declaration – released by the federal court yesterday – Djokovic ticked the box claiming he had NOT travelled before his arrival.

      • Louis Allwood

        Djokovic could face JAIL for ‘lying on his Australia travel form’

        Aussie Border Force officials are investigating whether the tennis star falsely claimed he had not visited another country on his application to fly to Oz.

        The anti-vaxxer put on his travel declaration that he had not been abroad in the 14 days before landing in Oz – but pictures show him in two different countries within that time period.

        On its website, the Home Affairs Department warns that giving "false or misleading information" to the government is “a serious offence” carrying a possible jail term.

        “If convicted, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 12 months,” it says.

      • Louis Allwood

        Lateral flow tests will be available ‘for as long as is necessary’

        Boris Johnson has said the Government will continue to make lateral flow tests available “for as long as is necessary”.

        “We are going to have to make sure we continue to use testing as one of our most important lines of defence for as long as is necessary,” he said during a visit to a vaccination clinic in Uxbridge.

        “The other line of defence in addition to testing is of course getting vaccinated. The boosters are going well. We have now done 36 million boosters – 90% of people over 50 – but clearly there is an opportunity for people who have not been boosted.”

      • Louis Allwood

        The full list of reasons to get a PCR test

        In England, the reasons for ordering a PCR test are:

        1. You have Covid symptoms 
        2. You’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive and you must self-isolate
        3. You’ve been asked to get a test by a local council or someone from NHS Test and Trace
        4. A GP or other health professional has asked you to get a test
        5. You’re taking part in a government pilot project
        6. You’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
        7. You’ve received an unclear result and were told to get a second test
        8. You need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms (you can order tests for up to three household members) 
        9. You’re in the National Tactical Response Group
        10. You are due to have surgery or a procedure (in some occasions)

        Exceptions to the lateral flow test rule:

        1. People who are eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment (TTSP) will still be asked to take a confirmatory PCR so they can access financial support
        2. People participating in research or surveillance programmes may still be asked to take a follow-up PCR test
        3. Around one million people in England who are at particular risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid are involved in new research of treatments

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