Experts have been working tirelessly over the past couple of weeks to track and learn about the new Omicron strain of the coronavirus. Omicron is currently spreading across the globe, the new variant has been causing the UK government to impose travel bans to and from different countries, which are being added and updated to the redlist. Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, spoke with BBC Radio 4’s Today show to discuss the latest data on the variant as he warned a new lockdown cannot be ruled out at the moment.
Mr Fergusson said: “So I think multiple groups including our own are analysing Omicron data from the UK for the last week or more.
“Certainly doubling case numbers of Omicron, are doubling at least every three days, maybe in every two days at the moment.
“So it is accelerating very quickly, very fast, and put that in context it’s the same if not faster than we saw with the original strain of the virus in March of last year so it is a concern.”
BBC host Martha Kearney questioned Mr Fergusson: “And does that mean that it will overtake Delta and if so when?”
Mr Fergusson said: “I mean it’s likely to overtake Delta before Christmas at this rate.
“Precisely when is harder to say, we will start seeing an impact on overall case numbers, it’s still probably 2-3 percent of all cases.
“So it’s kind of swamped within a week or two we will start seeing overall case numbers accelerate as well.
“So if you don’t do anything at the current time, it will most likely be sometime in January.”
Boris Johnson is planning to announce his decision on whether further Coronavirus rules and regulations need to be implemented, as science experts continue to provide more data on the latest variant.
A spokesperson for Number 10 said: “The Prime Minister said it was too early to draw conclusions on the characteristics of Omicron but that early indications were that it was more transmissible than Delta.”
“Further measures were introduced this week to help slow transmission and further seeding of the variant.”
“And the Prime Minister reiterated that booster vaccines remain our best defence against new and existing variants, with the NHS on course to meet the target of offering a booster to all adults by the end of January.”
The Prime Minister is expected to make a public announcement to members of parliament to discuss possible changes to the Covid restrictions in the last week before Parliament breaks up on December 16 for Christmas.
The spokesperson for Number 10 added: “At this stage, it is too early to tell, it remains the case that we don’t have that data through.
“Depending on the level of severity, depends on what knock-on impact that increase in transmissibility adds.
“We do have further measures already set out through Plan B, which we can move to should they be required, it’s too early to say at this stage and we will continue to study the data we are able to move relatively swiftly.”