Gloomy modelling from ‘Professor Lockdown’ today suggested there could be 5,000 Omicron deaths a day this winter without more restrictions as Britain’s overall Covid cases rocketed to record levels for the third day in a row.
A total of 93,045 people tested positive for Covid in the past 24 hours, up 60 per cent in a week, but the ultra-virulent variant is thought to be doubling nationally every two days and spreading faster than testing can keep up.
In an early warning sign, coronavirus hospitalisations in Omicron hotspot London have spiked by more than a third in a week — although they are rising from a small base with just 199 admitted on Tuesday.
Around a quarter of today’s cases were in London alone, where infections have risen fivefold since the world was alerted to Omicron’s existence on November 24. Meanwhile, another 3,201 new cases of Omicron were confirmed in Britain today, taking the total number to 14,909 as it becomes the dominant strain nationally. This is a vast underestimate due to the time it takes to analyse positive samples for variants and experts say up to 400,000 Brits could be catching it per day.
The surging statistics came as Professor Neil Ferguson — whose projections have spooked No10 into lockdowns before — called for curbs to be tightened by New Year on the back of his latest modelling of the mutant strain. His team at Imperial College London found that even in a best case scenario, there could be roughly 3,000 daily Omicron deaths at the peak in January without further curbs — much higher than the previous record of 1,800 during the second wave.