December 2, 2021 12.04 pm This story is over 28 months old

‘Just a matter of time’ before Omicron arrives in Lincolnshire, say health chiefs

“I have no doubt we will see it”

Lincolnshire’s health bosses have said no cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the county, but it’s only a matter of time until it arrives.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Director of Public Health Professor Derek Ward told Local Democracy Reporters: “I have no doubt we will see it.

“We haven’t been notified of any confirmed cases and we’ve looked through our own data and there’s no indication, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time – I just can’t answer when.”

The Government has confirmed more than 30 Omicron cases in the UK now, with some in the East of England.

In response to the variant it has brought back travel restrictions to several areas including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, as well as making masks mandatory in shops and on public transport.

Booster jabs are also being rolled out to all adults in the next few days and weeks and the time between shots has been shortened. People will be contacted when it is their time to be invited for a booster jab.

Professor Ward said public health professionals were concerned about all variants of the disease, but that the government’s response, and that of other world leaderships, suggested “we should be cautious about this one”.

He said more understanding was needed with the variant looking to be more transmissible and able to evade the vaccine, however, he said the key question was around the severity of the disease.

“We need to understand the impact on mortality and we need to understand whether our existing treatments that we have in the NHS work as effectively as as they do against the current strain.”

Lincolnshire County Council’s Director of Public Health Professor Derek Ward. | Photo: Lincolnshire County Council

He said travel restrictions were necessary to control borders and prevent or delay the arrival of the variant as much as possible pointing to how the original virus entered the county through a skiing trip to Italy.

“We know we’ve got some cases already, I suspect there’s a significant number more that we haven’t yet picked up. So the slower it spreads, the more time we’ve got to understand it. So anything we can do to slow it down is the key thing from my perspective.”