London ‘passed peak’ of Omicron as rates of Covid cases drop in capital, health chiefs say

The spread of Omicron is believed to have peaked in London over the New Year with infections already on the decline, the capital’s director of public health has said.

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

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

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Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed the seven-day case rate in London fell to 1,766 infections per 100,000 people, from a peak of 2,042 on 23 December.

However, Professor Fenton has warned that the “critical phase” of the pandemic is not over, with more than one in 10 Londoners currently believed to be infected with the virus.

“Remember that the infection levels are still very, very high … This means that we are not yet out of this critical phase of the pandemic, although we may have passed the peak,” added the Professor Fenton.

His comments were echoed by Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), who said Covid infections appeared to be on the decline in London.

“It looks like we have reached the peak of cases in London,” he told Times Radio. “It’s pretty clear that this is the case.”

“Hospitalizations may have started to drop in London as well, but they’re not going to go fast and I think it’s the same everywhere else,” he added.

The latest official data shows that Covid infections in London have started to decline in the past few days. The capital recorded 20,853 more cases in the past 24 hours, up from a peak of 33,136 on December 29.

The figures have bolstered health officials’ hopes that the Omicron wave will prove short-lived across the UK, with London believed to be around two to three weeks ahead of the rest of Britain in terms of infections.

However, this means other parts of the UK are now approaching the maximum number of cases, fueling concerns the NHS is facing an extremely difficult winter with the spread of Omicron resulting in increased staff absences .

The north-east and north-west of England are now believed to have succeeded London as the epicenter of Omicron, with regions reporting huge spikes in Covid cases in recent days.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Pandemic Influenza Modeling Panel (Spi-M) which advises the government, said on Saturday that the two regions of England were seeing the most ‘worrying’ rates of the Omicron variant.

“The North East and the North West are of particular concern – if you look at hospital admissions in these two areas they are increasing, and in the Midlands it’s a bit of a concern too, so it’s a concern. “, did he declare.

It comes as several hospital trusts have declared critical incidents due to Omicron’s impact on staff, while the North West Ambulance Service said on Friday it was under “extreme pressure” with absences of up to 25. %.

As of Friday morning, 16 hospital trusts in England were still in a critical incident state after a record number of staff absences due to Omicron. The number was 24 earlier in the week, but several have since declared their critical incidents over.

According to NHS England data, 39,142 NHS staff in hospital trusts in England were absent due to Covid on January 2 – a 59% increase from the previous week and more than triple the number in early December.

Ministers are said to have ongoing talks with the military about the possibility of offering additional support to UK hospitals after deploying staff to London Trusts earlier this week as they battle Omicron.

Carol N. Valencia