‘Very strong likelihood Omicron spreads far quicker than than Delta’ says Health Minister – ‘we’ve got to brace ourselves’
Wales’ Health Minister has said that the nation should “brace ourselves” for the next Covid variant as there is a “very strong likelihood Omicron spreads far quicker than than Delta”.
Speaking on BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement she said that despite only seeing one case of the variant so far Wales was “undoubtedly” going to see “hundreds if not thousands more in the next few weeks”.
She said that Omicron “couldn’t have been a worse time” because the wave was likely to hit at “a really difficult time for our NHS anyway”.
“It’s been really good to have the time to prepare for that obviously focusing on really boosting our vaccination programme and making sure that we can try and offer another booster programme to far more people in order to give them the best possible chance to get through Omicron virus if they if they contract it,” she said.
“We’re learning more day by day but there’s still a huge amount we need we need to know. One of the biggest concerns of course is that we don’t know to what extent it evades our vaccines, but also to what extent people get seriously ill if they contract the virus because it’s still very new even in South Africa it’s only a few weeks old.
“It takes a while to move through to a kind of serious stage. So it’s still early days. A huge amount of research work is being undertaken. I think we’re seeing more evidence now that there is a very strong likelihood that this spreads far quicker than than Delta and that in itself is a worrying development.”
She added that the Welsh Government would leave it until the last moment before making a decision on what action would be taken before this week’s 21-day review, as they collected more data about the new variant.
One possible new restriction was to extend Covid passes to hospitality settings, she said.
“We have got to take a proportionate view. We are very aware that this is a really important time for the hospitality sector but our primary responsibility is to try and keep people safe. So we need to balance that out. I must say that the case in Norway has kept me awake all night. Where about 120 people went to a party they were double vaccinated, they all had lateral flow tests, and 100 of them contracted the virus.
“That gives cause for concern without question. How ill do people get? We still don’t know but if it spreads that quickly and that easily, that then clearly there will be implications for us as a society. Where we’ll see lots of people going off, certainly self-isolating.”