First Omicron patients in hospital as minister warns of 1million cases by New Year in 'race between booster and variant'

BRITS are in hospital suffering with the Omicron mutation, it has been revealed this morning.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi confirmed there are now patients on wards who have tested positive for the strain – and said we face a race to get all adults the booster.

It's not known if those in hospital are seriously ill or in ICU, and no one is yet known to have died as a result of contracting the variant.

Data shows boosters offer up to 75 per cent protection from mild infection from Omicron, with The Sun relaunching our hugely successful Jabs Army campaign.

But Mr Zahawi said he fears an explosion of cases that could see millions affected within weeks, with the variant doubling every two to three days.

Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky, he said: "What we know, hence the concern, is that a third of infections in London are Omicron.

"Reported tests are indicating about 1,600 cases, but the number of infections in the community will be multiple that – up to 10 times.

"It's highly infectious, with a doubling rate between two and three days.

"Very quickly Omicron will be the dominant variant in the UK and probably the rest of the world.


"We've seen this movie before with the Kent and Delta variants.

"There are cases in hospital with Omicron."

And he warned that even if the strain causes less severe illness, "exponential growth" could cause huge pressure on the NHS.

Meanwhile, two doses of the jab may not be enough to protect Brits.

"Is it more infectious, yes," he said.

"Do the vaccines work? We know now that two doses of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca are not enough – they only protect to around 30 per cent – but the booster does raise that back up to where we were."

Government officials fear there will be one million Omicron infections by the end of this month.

Read our Omicron live blog for the latest updates

"We now a have variant so infectious, it will dominate and exponentially grow," he said.

"You get to 1million infections by, say, the end of December.

"One per cent [of those infected who suffer severe illness] is 10,000 suffering severe illness in hospital.

"Three days later its 2m, three days later its 4m, three days beyond that it's 8m.

"Even if it's milder by 50 per cent than Delta, the numbers are huge."

Currently, officials say there are no plans to go harder than the plan B restrictions announced on Wednesday, which include mandatory masks, working from home and vaccine passports.

The Government is even still officially urging people to press ahead with festive parties and school nativities despite the squeeze.

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And it is hoped huge take-up of jabs will spare Brits from further lockdown misery.

However, scientists estimate the R rate of the variant is 3.7 — meaning every positive person infects another three to four people.

An emergency Cobra meeting was presented with "deeply concerning" data about Omicron, Michael Gove warned on Friday night.

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