EXCLUSIVE Did London’s Covid outbreak peak an entire WEEK before Christmas? Capital’s cases began to flatten out on Dec 18 as official figures show up to 3% of people in worst-hit boroughs tested positive in final week before Xmas Eve
Slightly more than 30,000 people living in the capital tested positive on December 21 before the number fell for two consecutive days, causing the city’s average infection rate to flatten off. Cases are already trending down in some of the worst-hit boroughs.
One of the Government’s own advisers told MailOnline it was possible rates were dropping because of a ‘genuine decline’ in cases, mirroring the same trend seen in South Africa — the first country in the world to fall victim to the variant, where infections now appear to be in freefall.
Other experts urged caution over the figures, saying they could be skewed by fewer tests being carried out over the Christmas period. Statisticians, however, insisted the rate will ‘eventually’ fall but it was ‘really difficult’ to say when.
Despite Covid infection rates appearing to level off in London, they are still at the highest levels seen throughout the pandemic.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) statistics show almost 3 per cent of people living in Lambeth tested positive for the virus in the week ending December 23. That tally only takes into account people who were swabbed, and up to half of the infected never get tested.
The Omicron-fuelled wave of infections seen in London, where the variant first took hold in the UK, are expected to play out across the country in the coming weeks. All the other regions are now seeing a sustained increase in cases. Ministers have already ruled out imposing regional restrictions to fight Omicron.
But hospitalisations and deaths – the key measurements monitored by ministers to determine whether tougher curbs are required to control the spread of the virus – are still a fraction of the levels seen last winter.
Coronavirus admissions in London have doubled in a fortnight, which, coupled with rising staff absences among NHS staff, has piled pressure on hospitals. But daily hospitalisations are still below the 400-a-day level that could trigger a Government intervention.
NHS leaders have warned many admissions are incidental as they include people admitted for routine surgery or other conditions but coincidentally test positive for Covid. But they fear the Covid hospitalisation figures will still increase over the coming weeks.
The UKHSA has published positive Covid infections for the four subsequent days up to December 27 in London but these figures are incomplete.
They will be revised upwards as more positive tests are registered and backdated in the coming days.
The most up-to-date accurate figure is for December 23 (27,218). This was down on the two days before (28,696 and 30,269).