UK’s Omicron variant cases could reach 8 million within weeks

On Sunday, Britain’s four chief medical officers raised the COVID alert level from three to four, the second highest, due to the spread of the Omicron variant. Level Four means that “transmission is high or rising exponentially”, yet according to the chief medical officers requires only that “social distancing continues”.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a televised address from Downing Street but didn’t announce a single new measure to combat the virus

This was despite Johnson warning, “I’m afraid we're now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant Omicron… No one should be in any doubt, there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming…” and “At this point our scientists cannot say that Omicron is less severe.”

“It is so much more transmissible, that a wave of Omicron through a population that was not boosted would risk a level of hospitalisation that could overwhelm our NHS [National Health Service] and lead sadly to very many deaths.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a national television address concerning the Omicron variant of Covid and the government's booster jab programme. 10 Downing Street, 12/12/2021. (Picture by Tim Hammond/No 10 Downing Street/FlickR)

But he proposed nothing, while declaring in a mantra, “Get boosted now”, except that the previous target to vaccinate all adults by the end of January would be brought forward by a month. The economy, including all non-essential businesses, will remain fully open.

A further 1,239 cases of the Omicron variant were confirmed Sunday, the highest daily rise yet. The number is 65 percent higher than the already record number announced Saturday. The total number of recorded cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant now stands officially at 3,137. England has 2,953 cases overall, Scotland 159, Wales 15 and Northern Ireland 10. These numbers are undoubtedly far lower than the reality.

How dire the situation really is was revealed on Sunday by Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi in an interview with Sky News’s Trevor Phillips. Zahawi said without confirming the number, “I can confirm to you this morning there are cases in hospital with Omicron.”

The government has been briefed by scientists since Omicron was detected as to its virulence. Zahawi again confirmed that the new variant is “so infectious that it will dominate and exponentially grow”.

How bad things could be in a matter of days was spelled out: “Let's do a mathematic exercise for a second. You get to a million infections by say the end of December—1 percent is 10,000 severe infections that could be in hospital.

“Three days later it is two million, three days later it is four million. Three days beyond that it is eight million. That is the risk, that even if it is milder, say 50 percent milder than Delta, then the numbers are huge—it is a small percentage of a very large population.”

The UK’s population is only 68 million.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) warned that Britain faces just such a surge in Omicron infections if the government does nothing beyond the limited and inadequate “Plan B measures” it announced last week.

The massive spread of Omicron in the space of just two weeks after being detected in Britain is confirmed by the fact that it now accounts for nearly a third of new COVID cases in London, which has a population of around 10 million. The rate of COVID infection rose by 25.3 percent in London in the week ending December 4—the quickest spike throughout all of England’s nine regions. At least one Omicron infection has been detected in all the capital’s 32 boroughs. A month ago, cases in London were rising in just 10 boroughs, but are now increasing in all 32.

Since December 2, when 53,000 daily cases nationally were recorded, the 50,000 mark has been breached six times. Cases are already set to pass 60,000, with 58,527 infections reported Friday. On Sunday cases are usually lower due to a lag in reporting from health institutions, but 48,854 more were reported, taking total UK cases to over 10.8 million. With the government predicting up to 8 million cases of the Omicron variant in a matter of days, it is not inconceivable that approaching half the population could soon be infected with a deadly disease that had claimed 169,020 lives by November 19, according to the Office for National Statistics ONS).

The government has allowed the mass infection of children and is working with local authorities and schools to persecute parents if they keep their young ones out of unsafe schools.

On Saturday, some of the details of the terrible deaths from COVID of two teenagers, Mohammed Habib and Harry Towers, were announced. Both attended St John Fisher Catholic College in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and died within a week of each other during half-term.

Mohammed, aged 14, was in year 10 when he was struck down. He suffered a stroke caused by COVID-19, a post-mortem found, dying from a bleed on the brain on October 24.

The Metro reported that Harry, aged 15, caught COVID and “was due to go back to school after returning a negative lateral flow test on October 28 but died two days later.”

Both boys are understood to have been unvaccinated. The government delayed for months before finally allowing secondary schools to vaccinate their children last term. The delay has cost lives. The Metro reported, “Pupils at St John Fisher Catholic College had been due to have Covid vaccinations weeks before the double tragedy, which happened over half-term. But only flu vaccinations were given at the school as the Covid jabs were rescheduled for mid-November.”

The murderous agenda of the government, with the backing of the Labour Party and the trade unions, has been to ensure that schools remain open at all costs.

Zahawi told the media on Sunday that there were no plans to vaccinate primary school children, of whom there are over 4.7 million in England alone. This is despite evidence from South Africa that the youngest age groups are being hospitalised. In Britain, according to ONS data released December 3, the highest increase in the rate of infection (4.3 percent) among any age group in England was in children aged two to 11.

As part of the full reopening of the economy, football stadiums were opened without restrictions from August for the new season. The UK’s main spectator sport sees over a million people attend games each week.

The spread of COVID has already seen London club Tottenham Hotspur cancel several games in the last seven days, including a fixture with Mura of Slovenia in the European Conference League, as eight first-team players plus staff reported ill with COVID. At the weekend, Manchester United, who have the largest home game average attendance, had players and staff return positive lateral flow tests, with speculation that it may lead to a cancellation of a fixture this week.

Despite the spread of Omicron, stadiums are still being allowed to be packed to the rafters. Under the government’s Plan B, all that clubs are required to do—and only at any ground that exceeds a capacity of 10,000—is to ask spectators to show proof of vaccination.

Plan B restrictions are only set to be fully implemented on Wednesday, after a vote in parliament. They merely include guidance to work from home “where possible”, as determined by employers, and wearing face masks in most indoor places. Nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather will require proof of vaccination.

There is talk of a Plan C, possibly extending the use of vaccine passports to pubs and restaurants, where face masks would be required again, and a Plan D, possibly requiring the closure of pubs and restaurants.

Passengers on a Transport for London rail service in east London on December 8, 2021 (WSWS Media)

Such measures fall far short of the necessary lockdown. But as the most vociferous advocate of big business, a significant section of the Tories around the Covid Recovery Group is opposed to Johnson even putting Plan B into place.

On Tuesday, “at least” 60 Conservative MPs, according to the Daily Mail, are set to vote against the government on Plan B restrictions. Johnson has a parliamentary majority of 79 but may rely on the support of Labour to get the measures through. In the run up to the vote the Financial Times wrote of a “sulphurous” mood sweeping “through Tory ranks over the UK prime minister’s leadership.”

The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday, “It is understood membership of the Covid Recovery Group has grown in the past 24 hours, with Tories asking to be added to its WhatsApp group.”

The newspaper wrote that “leadership contenders… were on manoeuvres. MPs claimed that backers of Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, were attempting to bolster support for potential future candidacies.”