Thursday, January 20, 2022

UK coronavirus cases ‘plateau’ and give ’cause for optimism’, experts say

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Coronavirus cases appear to be a “plateau” in parts of the UK, a government health adviser has said.

dr Susan Hopkins, the senior medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said the number of infections had flattened out in London, the south-east and east of England.

Her comments came as other experts said they were optimistic about the coronavirus situation even as the Welsh Government began to ease restrictions.

dr Hopkins told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that cases were still relatively high, with one in 15 people in England and one in 20 elsewhere in the UK being infected, but that there was a “slowing down” in hospital admissions.

She said: “We are seeing community infections plateauing in London, the south east and east of England, which is good.

“There are still uprisings, but much slower in the northern parts of the country.

“All of this means we are seeing a slowdown in the number of hospital admissions but they are slowing rather than reversing at the moment so there are still more than 2,000 hospitalizations across the UK and almost 2,500 yesterday.”

dr Hopkins said hospitals have been able to discharge patients “quicker” because Omicron is milder than previous coronavirus variants, but that with around 15,500 people hospitalized last week the NHS remained “under a lot of pressure”, with some trusts “unable” to do much of their electoral maintenance,” a situation exacerbated by staff absences.

Prof Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh and chief social policy adviser to the Scottish Government, said Omicron cases in the UK appear to be “stabilizing”.

She told BBC Breakfast: “Cases are going down by over 20% when we look at them.

“In fact, yesterday I think was the last day, the first day for a while that we’ve had less than 100,000 cases, so things seem to be moving in the right direction.”

However, she warned that the number of patients in hospitals was still “very high”.

She added: “I think we have more data this week that is pointing to more optimism and let’s hope as we move forward this course is consistent and we feel like we’ve gotten through a really, really difficult time. ”

dr Chris Smith, a consulting virologist and lecturer at Cambridge University, said the current coronavirus data gives him “great cause for optimism”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The number of people going into intensive care or lying on beds on mechanical ventilation is actually going down. It stayed flat.”

He added that due to vaccines and reinfections, around 96% of the country now has antibodies to the coronavirus, meaning the vast majority of people are better able to ‘fight off’ the disease.

dr Smith said, “So we don’t see this strong connection of cases leading to consequences.”

Falling case numbers and a fall in the number of patients in intensive care beds have seen Wales scale down from alert level two to zero in the coming weeks.

As a first step, the number of people who can be present at outdoor events in Wales has increased from 50 to 500 from Saturday.

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