There are more than 1,200 confirmed or suspected cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the Liverpool City Region, the latest official figures reveal.
The UK Health Security Agency published a breakdown of Omicron cases in each English local authority up to 15 December.
A total of 49 cases have been confirmed across the LCR boroughs of Liverpool, Sefton, Wirral, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton, with a further 1,238 suspected infections of the Omicron mutation still being checked.
The combined total of 1,287 in the region is a considerable surge from the 50 confirmed and suspected Omicron cases in the UKHSA’s previous report, up to December 6.
The total number of Omicron cases detected in the UK is 24,968.
What’s been said
The Liverpool Health Protection Board (LHPB), which oversees the city’s response to the pandemic, says Omicron is now “a very serious threat” in the region.
“The Omicron variant is spreading at an extraordinary rate – faster than what we have seen before, and is causing local outbreaks in our communities, and disruption to health and care services, and to the wider economy,” the LHPB said.
“The Omicron variant rate is doubling in less than two days in the North West, and almost a third of COVID cases are now Omicron variant. The reality is therefore that we are highly likely to be facing a record peak of cases in a few weeks.”
Omicron cases in the Liverpool City Region
Here we break down the confirmed and suspected cases by council in the Liverpool City Region as of the latest Government data up to 15 December.
- Halton - 3 confirmed - 106 suspected
- Knowsley - 4 confirmed - 96 suspected
- Liverpool - 19 confirmed - 461 suspected
- Sefton - 13 confirmed - 248 suspected
- St Helens - 8 confirmed - 158 suspected
- Wirral - 2 confirmed - 169 suspected
‘Suspected’ cases explained
Suspected cases relate to PCR test samples that reveal a missing S-gene.
About one in every six positive PCR tests are sent for genome sequencing to determine which COVID-19 variant they are - a process which can take many days.
A quicker way to spot potential Omicron cases is to look for the S-gene marker, which is missing in variants such as Omicron but present in Delta cases.
Once identified, swabs showing so-called ‘S-gene dropout’ can then be sent for definitive testing for Omicron.
Cases with the ‘S-gene dropout’ that have not yet been formally identified through further definitive testing are classed as suspected cases.
Get vaccinated to ease strain on NHS
Liverpool public health director professor Matt Ashton says the city is set to see a “sharp spike” in coronavirus cases in January, putting the NHS under a lot of pressure.
Leaders across the North West are strongly urging residents to get vaccines and boosters as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, fewer people in Liverpool are protected with COVID -19 vaccine compared with the rest of the UK.
A third of adults in the city have not yet had two doses of vaccine and seven out of 10 people haven’t yet had a booster.
The LHPB warned: “Many people are likely to get sick at the same time, and due to the high number of cases, many people are likely to be hospitalised and in intensive care after Christmas.
“Doctors and nurses have grave concerns about whether they will be able to treat everyone who needs medical treatment in a timely way.
“Young and old, we all need to take action to protect ourselves, our families, friends and neighbours, and to keep our precious health and social care system from collapsing.”