Covid UK: 15 have been hospitalised with Omicron but officials are STILL yet to reveal any details

At least 16 Britons have been hospitalised with Omicron but health officials have yet to reveal patients’ vaccination status or even if Covid is the reason they need care.  

The continued lack of transparency prompted a fresh blast of fury, with one expert describing it as a scaremongering ‘conspiracy of gloom’. 

The UK Health Security Agency revealed that 16 patients were hospitalised with the mutant strain in England by December 14, and that one patient had died.  

In an update to MPs of the Health and Social Care Committee, Britain’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the real hospitalisation number will be ‘much bigger than that’ because of the time it takes to analyse positive tests for variants. 

However, whether these individuals are vaccinated or not, and if Omicron is why there were in hospital or if it had been detected while they in care for another reason, remain unanswered questions.  

Karol Sikora, a consultant oncologist and professor of medicine, said the nation had to right to know more and accused health officials of scaremongering.

‘We have a right to know, they can’t go scaring people like this without giving any information,’ he said. ‘They have a duty to put in the domain so doctors around the country can assess what is going on.

Professor Sikora, who helps care for people with cancer, argued there were real risks involved by letting speculation fill the gap and imaginations run wild. 

In South Africa, the epicentre of the new variant, data suggests that up to three-quarters of patients counted as Covid hospital admissions were ‘incidental’ cases, meaning they tested positive after being admitted for a different reason. 

Professor of medicine and consultant oncologist Karol Sikora said the Government was not providing the nation with enough information about individual Omicron cases

Professor Chris Whitty has said the known hospitalisations with Omicron are just those that have been proven, and real number is much larger

Professor Chris Whitty has said the known hospitalisations with Omicron are just those that have been proven, and real number is much larger

Professor Sikora told MailOnline: ‘It scares people, if I had a bit of tummy pain and weight loss I’d be too scared to go the doctors. 

‘Nobody knows what’s going to happen…but it’s a conspiracy of gloom. It’s scary but we need data and information.’ 

It came amid unconfirmed reports that the UK’s first Omicron death was an anti-vaxxer pensioner who refused the a Covid jab after becoming convinced it was part of a Government conspiracy to control the population.

Speaking anonymously, an LBC caller claiming to be the deceased’s step-son, said the victim was in his early 70s but had shunned the jab after being brainwashed online by antivaxxers. 

The pensioner apparently fell ill in early December and died in hospital in Northampton on Monday. 

His passing was announced by Boris Johnson earlier this week – but the lack of transparency over the UK’s first Omicron death prompted fury, as critics including senior doctors told the Government to release more details to stop ‘unnecessary alarm’. 

Four days on, there are still no further details from health officials. The Department of Health did not deny the LBC report was true – but declined to comment saying they don’t discuss ‘individual cases’. 

The first Omicron case was recorded in the UK on November 27 – an estimated 1million people per day will be infected by Sunday, current estimates suggest.

UK’s first Omicron death: What do we know?

There are almost no details available on the UK’s, first death from Omicron 

Was the person unvaccinated? 

Unclear. There are unconfirmed reports he was an unjabbed pensioner. But UKHSA have said most people hospitalised with Omicron had two doses of Covid vaccines.

Were they vulnerable? 

Undetermined. There are reports he was in his 70s and older people have an  increased risk of dying from Covid, which is why they, and the health and care staff who look after them, have been prioritized in the vaccine rollout.

Where did the person catch Omicron?.

Unknown. Where a person caught Covid can be tricky to pin down unless a large number of infections can be traced to a single-event, known as a super-spreader. 

In which part of the UK the person lived has not been disclosed but reports say he died in Northampton.

Were they in hospital for another reason when they died?

Unsure, but UKHSA have said the person who died was diagnosed with Omicron in hospital. This could mean that the person was in hospital for Covid, which was later determined to be the Omicron variant, or they were in hospital for a sperate reason, such as a heart attack and later found to have Omicron when they died. There is also the possibility they caught Omicron while in hospital for a procedure, like a planned surgery, and then caught Omicron and died.

Why haven’t we been told?

Patient confidentiality has been cited a reason. 

Will we know more? And when?

UKHSA prepare a weekly report on Covid cases and deaths. More information on this, and any more Omicron deaths, may be provided in that report that comes out at the end of the week. 

The stepson of the victim of the first UK fatal case, named only by LBC as John from Smithfield to protect the identity of the dead man, claimed he was a pensioner who had lived alone in a block of flats and died a fortnight after catching the virus.

‘He was a recluse to be honest. He never left the house, had all his food delivered and only left the house to go to the bins and the postbox. He was one of the cleanest guys I’d ever known’, John said.

‘But this is the important thing. He wasn’t vaccinated. My sister is gutted but on the other hand she’s a little bit angry that he never took the vaccine. She did have an argument with him about it in October about this very thing. 

‘He thought it was a conspiracy. He read it online. He was an intelligent man’, John said, adding: ‘Had he been vaccinated, he would probably still be here.’ 

John said his stepfather had died in hospital on Monday, around a week after being admitted. He said: ‘He started to look good but went downhill just like that. He wasn’t able to speak, he was scared. I think if you’re in hospital, having 80 per cent oxygen fired at you, you would regret it (not having a jab) wouldn’t you. I would. He was fit. He ate healthy, he didn’t smoke and didn’t drink in 30 years’.

Asked about Chris Whitty and Boris Johnson’s warnings about the dangers of Omicron by Nick Ferrari, he said: ‘It might be an overreaction but we don’t know. It’s the people who haven’t been vaccinated – they’re the ones that need to be worried now. The key thing is that he wasn’t vaccinated and he’d probably still be here. He might be ill, but he’d still be here’. 

The lack of clear data on individual cases of Omicron came as daily Covid cases in Britain rocketed to another record high today with more than 88,000 people diagnosed in the last 24 hours.

Today’s count marks a 74 per cent rise in a week and is 12 per cent higher than the toll yesterday, which eclipsed the previous record of 68,000 during the second wave in January.

Professor Whitty has warned that ‘records will be broken a lot’ by the ultra-infectious Omicron variant, believed to be doubling every two days and spreading faster than testing can keep up. 

A third of today’s 88,376 Covid cases were in London which has rapidly become the country’s Omicron epicentre, with infections now rising in every age group except young children. 

Professor Whitty also said today that Omicron is spreading so quickly it could send daily hospital admissions above the previous high of 4,500. 

However, he admitted there were still several key questions about Omicron such as how severe it is and how well vaccines protect against severe disease.

Daily Covid deaths — which are a lagging indicator — fell today with 146 fatalities down by around 1 per cent on last Thursday. Latest hospital data shows there were 849 admissions on December 12, up 4 per cent in a week.

Boris Johnson insisted that the Government does not want to ‘lock stuff down’, with Britons instead urged to ‘prioritise’ social events, get a booster and do a lateral flow test before meeting people. 

How Omicron went from one UK case to 1million per day in just three weeks

November 25: The UK Government relaunches its red travel list and hotel quarantine for six African countries including South Africa

November 27: The UK Health Security Agency confirms that the first cases of COVID-19 with mutations consistent with B.1.1.529 – known as Omicron – was identified in the UK. 

December 12: 3,137 Omicron cases reported in the UK, mostly in England. But just ten people are in hosiptal.

December 13: Britain’s first Omicron death is announced. Boris Johnson gave no details on the death other than the person had been diagnosed in hospital. 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid says the variant now accounted for 44% of infections in London and would be the dominant strain in the capital within 48 hours. New Omicron infections are estimated at 200,000 per day, he said.

December 14: Experts say cases are doubling every 2.5 days and predict 1million cases per day by Sunday

December 15: The travel red list is scrapped due to the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK 

December 16: The stepson of the first Omicron fatality says he was unvaccinated when he died in hospital in Northampton on Monday   

But fears about the variant are already creating a de facto lockdown in London, where tens of thousands of workers stayed at home today to avoid isolating over Christmas. 

With Covid cases now rising in every age group except young children in London there are fears about how this will translate into NHS pressure. 

Department of Health data shows London is now seeing just as many cases as last January, when it was battered by the Alpha variant and put under harsher measures than the rest of the country.

London’s spiralling crisis was initially driven by teenagers and adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s, who were seeing an uptick in cases two weeks before the ultra-infectious strain was first detected. Infections started to rise in the over-60s days after Omicron was confirmed to be in Britain, according to MailOnline analysis.

In another warning sign for the country, UKHSA data published today revealed the capital now has the 25 areas with the fastest growing outbreaks in England.

Experts have admitted the capital’s crisis will inevitably slow down because the virus will simply run out of room, and people adhere to dire warnings from Boris Johnson and Professor Whitty’s plea to ‘prioritise’ the most important social events in the coming days. 

Today’s news came as a study found  the Omicron variant multiplies 70 times faster than Delta in the airways, which may explain why the mutant virus is spreading at a ferocious pace.

Hong Kong University researchers also found the new variant replicates 10 times slower in the lungs than its predecessor.

That finding lends weight to the theory it is milder than the past variants, something which doctors in South Africa have been claiming for weeks.

The researchers exposed lung tissue in a laboratory to the original Covid strain that was identified in Wuhan last year, along with the two variants, to compare how the viruses behave after infection.

Omicron replicated faster in the bronchus — tubes connecting the windpipe and lungs — suggesting people with the strain may be more infectious.

Higher viral loads nearer the throat means people are more likely to breathe out viral particles.

Delta was found to duplicate much quicker in the lungs, where more of the virus can lead to the most severe illness.

The finding may be the biological clue behind why doctors insist people infected with the strain only suffer cold-like symptoms.