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* Number of omicron coronavirus variant skip cases

* Mayor of London declares “major incident” to help hospitals

* Government science advisers say many cases go unreported

* Advisors say more action is needed to prevent surge in hospitalizations

* Johnson faced the wrath of his own lawmakers at existing measures

LONDON, Dec. 18 (Reuters) – Britain on Saturday reported an upsurge in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant which government advisers have said may be just the tip of the iceberg, and the mayor of London has declared a “major incident” to help city hospitals cope.

The number of registered Omicron cases across the country reached nearly 25,000 on Friday at 6:00 p.m. GMT, up more than 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA ).

Seven people suspected of having had the Omicron variant had died on Thursday, compared with one death in previous UKHSA data which dated back to Tuesday. Hospital admissions of people suspected of having the variant have increased from 65 to 85.

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said it was “almost certain” that hundreds of thousands of people were infected with the variant every day and were not being detected in the numbers.

SAGE said without further tightening COVID-19 rules, “Modeling indicates a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England,” they said in minutes from a meeting on the 16th. December.

Last January, before Britain’s vaccination campaign gained momentum, daily hospital admissions across the UK topped 4,000.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced a rebellion within his ruling Conservative Party over some of the steps he has taken so far in an attempt to curb the latest spread of COVID-19. A newspaper reported on Saturday that Johnson’s Brexit Minister David Frost had resigned in part because of the new rules.

Advisors said it was too early to assess the severity of illness caused by Omicron, but if there was a modest reduction compared to the Delta variant, “a very high number of infections would still cause significant pressure. on hospitals “.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said a “major incident” – which allows for closer coordination between public agencies and possibly more support from central government – as COVID-19 hospital admissions in the city ​​grew nearly 30% this week.

He said the absences of health workers had also increased.

“It’s a statement of the gravity of things,” he said.

Khan, of the opposition Labor Party, also declared a major incident in January, when rising COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals.

The Omicron variant https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/how-worried-should-we-be-about-omicron-variant-2021-12-14 is estimated to account for over 80% of new COVID-19 cases in London, officials said on Friday.

EMERGENCY MEETING

Johnson was due to chair an emergency committee meeting this weekend with the decentralized administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have their own public health powers.

An article in The Times newspaper said officials were preparing draft rules which, if introduced, would ban indoor mixing in England – except for work – for two weeks after Christmas, when pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor table service.

People could gather in groups of up to six outside, the newspaper said, adding that ministers have yet to officially review the plans.

Johnson said on Friday “we are not shutting things down”.

A government spokesperson said the government would continue to “closely examine all emerging data and we will keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant.”

The number of all new COVID-19 cases reported in official data fell to 90,418 from a record high of over 93,000 on Friday, but it was still the second highest daily death toll in the country. The numbers generally drop on weekends.

Cases rose 44.4% in the seven days to Dec. 18 compared to the week before.

Police on Saturday clashed with a group of protesters opposing the latest COVID-19 restrictions near Johnson’s office and residence in Downing Street. A number of officers have been injured but so far no arrests have been made, police said. (Edited by Helen Popper, Timothy Heritage and Catherine Evans)

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