Omicron Emerges as Christmas Buzzkill in Britain

The Omicron variant of coronavirus has triggered worries across the globe. (File Photo/Reuters)

From the things that India can learn from the Omicron explosion in UK to what the statistics have revealed and hidden so far, a roundup of what’s making news at this time.

  • London
  • Last Updated:December 14, 2021, 20:44 IST

Indian entertainers face cancellations: Almost overnight it seems, over the weekend certainly, the curtain has fallen over the celebratory mood in Britain up to Christmas. Indian social media had been buzzing particularly busily, as it always does. Suddenly party invitations are being withdrawn, social events being cancelled. Bands from India called over to entertain Indians are being sent back before due time. This could yet be a quieter Christmas than the last.

Facts concealed: New and scary details are emerging over those in hospital with Omicron. Almost all had been double vaccinated. But health officials are holding back vital information. This is the moment to test how AstraZeneca and Pfizer compare against one another. As the consensus stands, it needs a third dose of Pfizer to boost immunity to about 75 per cent. But nobody is saying yet which vaccine the double vaccinated who caught Omicron had taken.

Crucial lesson: Leading scientists had warned after just two cases of Omicron were detected in Britain that banning flights from Africa had come too late: it was like closing the stable doors after the horse had bolted, they said. No one took that seriously over just a couple of cases. And now India is complacent because only a few Omicron cases have been found. The alarm bells are waiting to ring out in India now.

Omicron spurt in UK’s Indian neighbourhoods: Omicron has descended upon the Indian areas of Britain with particular rapidity. Boroughs such as Harrow and Brent are seeing well above a thousand cases a week, Ealing that includes Southall is seeing close to 2,000, and has overnight gone higher than the national average. Just a handful of Indian-heavy boroughs now have a tenth of national cases. Indian areas suffered heavily the last time. The new trends are pointing ominously that way already.

Authorities jittery: As the daily reported cases approached 55,000 on Monday, the number of hospitalisations actually fell by 53. Little consolation there. Health authorities are warning of a two-week lag before hospitalisations and deaths catch up, though they keep up the hope that they could well stay low. But if those pick up, nobody wants to think what Christmas and New Year’s will be like.

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