SHOCKING graphs show how fast Omicron cases are spreading in the UK – with infections now doubling every 2.5 and 3 days.
Boris Johnson tonight warned the nation England must move to Plan B and bring back some restrictions in order to beat back the variant.
The doubling time is rapidly increasing – shown by a huge rise at the end of November with the arrival of Omicron
Graphs using the latest data on the spread of the mutant variant show a sharp rise in cases towards the end of November, when Omicron reached Britain’s shores.
He also revealed contacts of Omicron will get daily tests, to make sure they haven’t picked up the bug.
The PM said: “We don’t yet know Omicron’s severity, its rate of transmission nor still the effect of our vaccines against it.
“Omicron is spreading far rapidly than its Delta variant.”
He urged Brits to get their boosters and continue following guidance to keep Christmas plan running smoothly.
It comes after promising new data suggests having a Pfizer booster jab will protect against the Omicron variant.
The encouraging findings of initial lab studies come as the NHS continues in its mission to offer all adults boosters by the end of January.
It comes as:
? Read our Omicron variant live blog for the latest news
The Sun’s Jab’s Army has called upon all Brits to come forward and have their life-saving shot, with volunteers also needed to drive the rollout.
Experts say Omicron could become the dominant strain in “weeks rather than months”.
The UK Health Security Agency estimates that the number of infections will be around 20 times higher than the number of confirmed cases and so the number of infections is closer to 10,000.
It is thought that at the current observed doubling rate of between two and a half and three days, by the end of this month cases could exceed a million.
Grim Sage documents, used to help the Government make the call to bring back in restrictions, predicted that if the UK follows South Africa’s trajectory the peak will be larger than that of January this year.
They also warned that even if Omicron is half as severe as Delta, the rise in infections could still pile huge pressures on healthcare settings.
UKHSA Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Susan Hopkins said: “It is increasingly evident that Omicron is highly infectious and there is emerging laboratory and early clinical evidence to suggest that both vaccine-acquired and naturally acquired immunity against infection is reduced for this variant.
“It is therefore absolutely critical that we all do everything that we can to help break the chains of transmission and slow the spread of this new variant.
“Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against becoming severely ill from this new variant – please get your first, second, third or booster jab without delay.”
It came after Boris Johnson admitted he couldn’t rule out snap Covid restrictions over Christmas, and Downing Street said the PM would make an announcement before MPs break up for their holidays on December 16.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid also said Brits may need to get annual vaccinations in future, adding: “We have to find ways to continue with life as normal.”
Today experts warned cases of the Omicron variant could cause 1,000 hospitalisations a day by the end of the year.
Leaked minutes from Sage seen by the BBC show that if extra restrictions aren’t implemented, then there will be a rise in hospitalisations.
At present there are around 680 people a day being admitted to hospital with the bug.
The minutes from the meeting state: “With the speed of growth seen, decision makers will need to consider response measures urgently to reduce transmission if the aim is to reduce the likelihood of unsustainable pressure on the NHS.”
The confirmed number of Omicron cases today rose to 568, but scientists fear the super-mutated variant is spreading more than three times faster than Delta, with many now estimating it could become the dominant strain within weeks.
Only days ago the Government was urging Brits to press ahead with festive party plans and said they had no intention to push the panic button.
But rapidly rising cases of the mutation – and evidence vaccines may not be as effective – have bounced the PM into rapid action.
Scientists warn that up to 1,000 Brits each day could now be catching the highly contagious form of the virus — with new cases doubling every three days.
Using UK Health Security Agency data, Professor Alastair Grant from the University of East Anglia calculates that up to one in 50 cases are now caused by Omicron — around 1,000 a day.
And he says the strain’s R rate, which measures the number of people infected by each case, could be as high as 3.47 — while the figure has been around 1.0 since August with Delta.
Prof Grant explained: “Numbers of Covid cases likely to be the Omicron variant are increasing rapidly in England.
“This gives a worst-case scenario of 2,500 cases so far.
“It is more effective at infecting people through a balance of escaping immunity and some increase in transmissibility.
“The biggest concern in the short term is pressure on hospitals because at the beginning of January those hospitals will already be having a hard time.”