Politics

Covid-19: North-east and north-west England see ‘concerning’ Omicron rise



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he North East and North West of England are seeing “concerning” rates of the Omicron variant, an expert has said, amid worries over healthcare staffing and a spike in hospital admissions.

Figures showed that three of the five UK areas with the biggest week-on-week rises in Covid case rates are Middlesbrough (748.8 to 2,651.4), Copeland (1,731.3 to 3,525.8) and Redcar & Cleveland (846.8 to 2,564.3).

Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) highlighted these regions, along with the Midlands as areas of concern.

He said cases in London are “slowing down”, but scientists need two weeks to see if this continues.

Hospital admissions are ‘concerning’ in the North East and North West (Victoria Jones/PA) / PA Wire

The Government said on Saturday that a further 313 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 150,057,  while another 146,390 lab-confirmed cases had been recorded.

Dr Tildesley told Times Radio on Saturday: “Most other parts of the country are about two to three weeks behind where London is in their epidemic profile.

“Particularly concerning is the North East and the North West – if you look at hospital admissions in those two regions they are going up, also the Midlands, where I live, that’s also a little bit concerning, so it is a worry.

“On the slightly more positive side, so it doesn’t sound all doom and gloom, what we are seeing from hospital admissions is that stays in hospital do appear to be on average shorter, which is good news, symptoms appear to be a little bit milder, so this is what we are seeing consistently with the Omicron variant.”

In the Midlands, Northamptonshire leaders declared a system-wide major incident on Friday due to Covid-19.

Northamptonshire Local Resilience Forum, which is made up of NHS organisations, local authorities, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police, issued the alert due to “rising demand on services and staffing levels”.

However, Dr Tildesley added that Omicron is possibly the “first ray of light” in ensuring Covid-19 becomes endemic and easier to live with, similar to the common cold.



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