15 COVID hotspots as cases explode in London
The 15 areas of the UK with the worst COVID outbreaks are all in London, new figures have revealed, as Omicron continues to surge in the capital.
In two boroughs, Lambeth and Wandsworth, the seven-day rolling rate of new COVID cases is higher than 2,000 per 100,000 people.
In five London areas, Lambeth, Hackney and City of London, Wandsworth, Islington and Tower Hamlets, case rates have more than tripled in a week.
On Monday, a further 91,743 COVID-19 cases were recorded in the UK - the second-highest daily total recorded since the pandemic began.
These are the 15 local authorities with the worst COVID outbreaks (seven-day rolling rate of new infections per 100,000 people):
Hackney and City of London 1797
Hammersmith and Fulham 1704.2
Tower Hamlets 1465.5
Waltham Forest 1253.3
Experts have said Omicron cases are now doubling every two days and the variant’s faster transmissibility means it is “coming at us like an express train”.
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned daily hospital admissions could reach 3,000 without swift action.
It remains unknown whether people infected with Omicron suffer less severe illness and what impact that could have on the number of people needing hospital treatment. However, even if the disease is milder, the sheer numbers catching coronavirus mean hospitals could yet be overwhelmed.
London has been hit worst by the variant so far, with COVID patients in hospitals up by a third in a week.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said London trusts were facing pressure from rising coronavirus hospital admissions.
He said: “Over the last week, the pressure on London trusts has been mounting rapidly. It’s not just hospitals, it’s community mental health and ambulance trusts, too.
“So, for example, the number of hospitalised Covid patients or patients who tested positive for Covid has gone up by 30% in a week, at a time when nationally it’s only gone up by 4%.”
Boris Johnson ruled out bringing in new restrictions "immediately" following a five-hour cabinet meeting on Monday.
However, the PM said his government reserves the “possibility of taking further action” to protect public health due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
Multiple reports suggest that restrictions are likely to be introduced between Christmas and New Year.
The Prime Minister said they were monitoring the data “hour by hour”.
Will there be a Christmas lockdown? Everything we know so far
Omicron symptoms: South African doctor on three most common signs of new variant
Government is 'exploiting' NHS workers and treating them like 'machines'
In minutes released on Saturday, Sage warned restrictions “similar in scale to the national lockdown” are needed to keep hospital admissions from coronavirus below previous peaks.
Modelling showed that if ministers stuck to the current Plan B measures, there would be a peak of 3,000 per day.
Sage said delaying introducing stricter measures until 2022 would “greatly reduce the effectiveness of such interventions and make it is less likely that these would prevent considerable pressure on health and care settings”.
The PM has been accused of ducking decisions because he does not wish to antagonise Tory MPs who are opposed to further restrictions.
Former cabinet minister Esther McVey tweeted: “Pleased the Cabinet and PM (recognising where majority opinion is in parliamentary party) are now listening to their backbench MPs and for once pushed back on the scaremongering by the lockdown fanatics.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: “Boris Johnson is too weak to stand up to his own backbenchers, many of whom have no plan beyond ‘let the virus rip’
Watch: Boris Johnson 'reserves the possibility' of further Covid-19 restrictions