December 13, 2021 5.09 pm This story is over 30 months old

Omicron cases to “dramatically increase” as NHS on highest level of COVID alert

Daily testing for fully vaccinated contacts begins Tuesday

The Health Secretary has warned that Omicron cases will “dramatically increase” in the coming days as NHS England moves into the highest level of COVID preparedness.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Sajid Javid announced the government would open up new pop-up and mobile vaccination sites across the UK in a bid to support the government’s plan to offer booster jabs to all adults by the end of the year.

Under the government’s Plan B, from Tuesday people who are fully-vaccinated and identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 will be asked to take an NHS rapid lateral flow test every day for seven days to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Javid said there was an expectation for the Omicron variant to become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the next 48 hours – with 20% of cases in England now thought to be the variant and 44% in London.

The first person to die from Omicron was also confirmed today and there are 10 people in England who have been hospitalised with Omicron.

“It’s important that we remember that deaths and hospitalisations lag infections by about two weeks,” said Mr Javid.

“So we can expect those numbers to dramatically increase in the days and weeks that lie ahead.”

He denied accusations of a shortage of home testing kits after people found themselves unable to order them online earlier today. Instead he said it was an issue with an ability to deliver.

He urged people to get their booster jabs, and confirmed thousands more volunteers were being trained, and 42 military planning teams are being drafted in across every region to help with the programme.

Some medical treatments may again be postponed until the new year in order to prioritise getting the booster, while care homes will be asked to restrict visitor numbers to three.

The NHS COVID Pass will be rolled out to 12 to 15-year-olds for international travel.