UK COVID cases are above 50,000 for the third time in ten days as a further 51,459 people test positive.
Today’s case total marks a 20.8 per cent week-on-week rise – after 42,583 cases were recorded last Monday.
UK cases are above 50,000 for the third time in ten days (file image)Credit: PA
And the UK’s death toll has soared by 17 per cent this week after a 41 people died after contracting coronavirus.
It comes amid reports that cases of Omicron are likely to be five times higher than those 246 confirmed so far.
Professor Paul Hunter said there was current concern that Omicron “is spreading rather more quickly than the Delta variant”.
It is therefore “probable” the super mutant Covid strain would be dominant in around a month.
The UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) said a further 86 cases of Omicron had been confirmed in the UK on Sunday, 68 in England and 18 in Scotland, bringing the total to 246.
Due to a time lag between exposure and test results, it may be that there are several hundred more infected who are not aware.
Cases may also be underreported because Omicron is only detected in tests that are genetically sequenced.
Just a fraction – 25 per cent – of all positive tests are screened for identification of variant.
UKHSA has already warned the mutant variant is “transmitting rapidly and successfully” after first being identified here a week ago.
Prof Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said there were probably more than 1,000 cases in the UK at the moment.
He told BBC Breakfast: “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.
“The big remaining question is actually how harmful it is if you do get Covid with this Omicron variant, and that’s the question that we’re struggling to answer at the moment.”
Prof Hunter said it was not clear how evidence from South Africa would translate to the UK as we have a highly vaccinated population.
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