Is the Omicron Covid variant in Blackpool and the Fylde coast? Interactive map shows where coronavirus strain has been detected
Professor Paul Hunter, from the school of medicine at the University of East Anglia, says there is concern that Omicron “is spreading rather more quickly than the Delta variant” and there are probably more than 1,000 cases in the UK at the moment.
He told BBC Breakfast it was not clear how evidence from South Africa would translate to the UK as we have a highly vaccinated population.
The latest official data says there are 246 cases, with one having been confirmed in Lancaster last week.
He added: “How it’s likely to spread in the UK still uncertain, but I think the early signs are that it will probably spread quite quickly and probably start outcompeting Delta and become the dominant variant probably within the next weeks or a month or so at least.
He said travel restrictions would have a minor impact, adding that “one of the problems with travel restrictions like this is that it then de-motivates other countries to actually be open about their own situations for fear of what they would see as economic sanctions. So I think once the infection is spreading within a country, then border restrictions don’t really add anything.
“We’ve known that long before Covid. This has been knowledge that we’ve had for decades, if not centuries, to be honest.”
Elsewhere, people with cold-like symptoms should work from home and avoid Christmas parties in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, according to Tim Spector, from the Covid Zoe app.
The professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London told Times Radio the UK should be “much more open-minded about who we are testing” and “get more people to isolate at least for a few days with cold-like symptoms”.
“At the moment, we’re estimating that somewhere between one and three and one in four colds are actually due to Covid,” he said.
“And so that’s quite a high rate of people that are currently not even bothered to get a lateral flow test, or getting a PCR test, going to parties and spreading it around.
“So if that transfers to Omicron then we’re going to be compiling that problem much faster than we would need to.”
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