UK’s omicron Covid cases could surpass red list countries in matter of days, warns expert

The UK could have more cases of omicron than some countries on the travel red list, Professor Tim Spector has said.

The professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London told BBC Breakfast: “The official estimates are about 350-odd Omicron cases, and because the current testing is missing a lot of those, it’s probably at least 1,000 to 2,000 I would guess at the moment.

“And we are expecting this to be doubling about every two days at the moment, so if you do your maths – say assumed it’s 1,000 at the moment, and you think it’s going to be doubling every two days, you can see that those numbers are going to be pretty (high) certainly in about 10 days time.

“By that time, we’ll probably have more cases than they will in some of those African countries.”

Dr Jeffrey Barrett, director of the Covid-19 genomics initiative at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, also said he thought omicron would take over from delta in the UK as the dominant variant of coronavirus “within a matter of weeks”.

New travel rules designed to slow the spread of the omicron variant have been introduced today. All travellers to England will be required to take a pre-departure test, amid warnings that the time between infection and infectiousness could be shorter with the new strain.


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