Monday 20 December 2021
Hundreds of cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus have now been detected in the UK and scientists say the number of people with symptoms is doubling every two to three days.
The variant was highlighted by scientists in South Africa as a potentially worrying new strain. Experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say that, if their most pessimistic scenario occurs, we may have to endure more stringent restrictions to ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed.
Not enough is known about this new variant but it is thought that whilst it is up to three times more contagious than the current Delta variant, it may be less severe a disease.
Could that be good news?
Unfortunately, it appears that this is probably not the case. The concern is the very high transmission rate. Increased infections will inevitably result in an increase in the number of cases that are referred to hospital.
The experts state that it would have to be less dangerous by a much greater degree than it is less transmissible if we are to avoid a rise in the number of people needing hospital care.
The Omicron wave couldn't come at a worse time for the NHS. Even in a normal year, the beginning of January is its busiest period. But this time hospitals may have to factor in the most infectious variant yet, just at a time where they are also trying to cope with the backlog of medical cases.
Will vaccines work against Omicron?
Although still learning what the true impact of the Omicron variant will be, current vaccines are expected to help protect against severe illness, hospitalisations, and deaths due to this variant. That said, being double vaccinated alone may not be enough to afford full protection.
Advised by the medical experts, the Government has now extended the booster vaccinations to all adults and have brought forward the target for achieving this to the end of December. Whilst this has just been announced for England, it is expected to apply to Wales and the other home nations.
The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasises the importance of vaccination and boosters.
Source: BBC News/Sky News 12.12.21
Anyone aged 5 and over with coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate and get a test. Doing this will help prevent the spread of the virus to family, friends, colleagues and the wider community.
People living in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot can book a test by calling 01639 862757, or online at https://gov.wales/getting-tested-coronavirus-covid-19