Friday Five

Omicron found to be lower risk, no more Covid rules before Christmas, record levels of cases and self isolation period reduced – this week’s Friday Five

Studies find Omicron risk lower than other variants

The UK government says it is monitoring Covid data after early studies found the Omicron variant may cause milder illness than the Delta variant. Scientists said the findings were good news but warned a big wave of cases could still overwhelm the NHS.

Analysis by researchers at Imperial College London found around a 40% reduction in the risk of being admitted to hospital for a night or more compared with Delta, while an Edinburgh University study suggested there was a 65% lower risk of being hospitalised with Omicron – but it was based on only a few cases.

Imperial College epidemiologist Prof Neil Ferguson said the research was “clearly good news to a degree”. However, he warned the reduction was “not sufficient to dramatically change the modelling” and the speed at which Omicron was spreading could still mean hospitalisations “in numbers that could put the NHS in a difficult position”.

Read the full story in BBC News.

No more Covid rules in England before Christmas, Sajid Javid says

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed there will be no further announcements on Covid restrictions in England before Christmas.

These comments came two days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised there would not be any further measures before the festive day, but did not specify whether any new guidance will be imposed in the weeks following December 25.

Mr Javid said: “We are not planning any further announcements this week. Despite the caution that we are all taking, people should enjoy their Christmases with their families and their friends – of course, remain cautious. We will keep the situation under review. We are learning more all the time as we have done from this new data. We will keep analysing that data and if we need to do anything more we will, but nothing more is going to happen before Christmas.”

Read the full story in ITV News.

UK reports over 100,000 daily cases for the first time

On Wednesday, 106,122 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK, the first time daily reported cases have risen above 100,000. The Government said a further 140 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 173,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Dr Jim McMenamin, the national Covid-19 incident director for Public Health Scotland “The potentially serious impact of omicron on a population cannot be underestimated. And a smaller proportion of a much greater number of cases that might ultimately require treatment can still mean a substantial number of people who may experience severe Covid infections that could lead to potential hospitalisation,”.

Read the full story in The Telegraph.

 

Self-isolation cut from 10 days to seven with negative tests

It was announced this week that people infected with Covid in England can stop self-isolating up to three days early if they test negative twice. They will now be able to end quarantine after seven days instead of 10 by providing negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven.

The new guidance applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. It also applies to anyone currently in isolation, so people who tested positive or first showed symptoms on Friday last week could end their isolation in time for Christmas Day if they meet the conditions. But people should not end their isolation early if they are still experiencing symptoms, officials said.

Announcing the change to isolation rules, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said Omicron’s rapid spread posed a threat to critical public services this winter. CEO, Dr Jenny Harries, said the new rules would “help break chains of transmission” while minimising “the impact on lives and livelihoods”. Mr Javid said the UKHSA was “very comfortable” that the protection provided by lateral flow tests was “very similar to 10 days of isolation without tests”

Read the full story in BBC News.


Quote of the week

This week it was announced that a women’s health ambassador will be appointed to help reduce “gender health inequality” in England following a government consultation on the subject earlier this year. MP Maria Caulfield, said:

“The responses from the call for evidence were in many ways as expected, particularly with regards to women’s priorities, but in some places the revelations were shocking. It is not right that over three-quarters of women feel the healthcare service has not listened. This must be addressed. Many of the issues raised require long-term system-wide changes, but we must start somewhere.”

Read the full story in BBC News.