The Omicron variant of coronavirus may be spreading fast in England than in South Africa and the confirmed infections are set to soar in the coming weeks, according to a senior scientific adviser. Prof John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies , warned that the emergence of the Omicron variant was a “very severe setback” to the gains made on the pandemic front, warning that the daily coronavirus disease cases with Omicron infection could possibly reach to 60,000 by Christmas, The Guardian reported.

Edmunds was speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine webinar on Thursday where he reportedly said it was “extremely likely” that there are more Omicron infections in the country than confirmed by tests. The epidemiologist also defended British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Covid restrictions amid fears of a surge in Omicron cases, saying it was “absolutely not an overreaction” irrespective of the severity of disease caused by Omicron.

“Nobody wants to have to reintroduce these measures. It’s very damaging for parts of the economy  the hospitality and retail sector, in particular, are going to be affected – but unfortunately we have to do it,” Edmunds said, as quoted by The Guardian.

On Thursday, the United Kingdom reported over 50,000 new Covid cases and 148 related deaths as the country’s health security agency identified a further 249 Omicron cases, bringing the total to 817. Referring to the surge in Omicron cases and the speed to its transmission, Edmunds said the UK “may well have really significant numbers of cases by Christmas.”The Guardian quoted him as saying, “I suspect that whatever we do now, we are unlikely to overreact,”.

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