Dr Azeem Majeed said Omicron Covid rates are so high, the ‘chances are’ someone at a party will be infected and you could then pass the virus to vulnerable relatives
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Boris Johnson’s decision not to enforce Covid curbs on New Year’s Eve gatherings in England is “quite risky”, a top scientist said today.
Dr Azeem Majeed warned party-goers the “chances are” someone at a party will be infected.
Party-goers could then catch the virus and end up infecting vulnerable people like their grandparents, he warned.
The head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London told Times Radio: “It is quite risky given the fact we’re now approaching 200,000 cases per day – there is a high rate of infection in the community.
“So if you attend an event in a crowded indoor venue, the chances are that someone there will have been infected, and they may not know that and that person could infect others.
“So if you do attend an event you have to bear in mind you are doing that with some risk to yourself.
“And you may infect others in your family who are perhaps more vulnerable such as your parents and grandparents.”
Dr Majeed warned it will be difficult to find enough staff to run a new wave of temporary NHS hubs.
New data today shows 24,632 NHS staff in England were sick with Covid or isolating on Boxing Day – a rise of 30% in just a week.
The figure reached an even higher peak of 27,716 on December 23.
Calls are mounting for NHS staff to get priority for tests.
Meanwhile Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the council at the British Medical Association, warned a surge in hospital cases was preventing the six million people on the NHS waiting list from being treated.
There were 11,452 Covid patients in England’s hospital beds at 8am yesterday – up from 7,166 on Christmas Day.
The figure is the highest since February 26.
Dr Nagpaul told Sky News: “What’s concerning is that we are seeing significant increases in people in hospital.
“In fact, as of yesterday, the number of people admitted and also the number of patients in hospital is at a level as high as during the lockdown earlier this year in spring, in February/March.
“Now that is a significant number and it is increasing, so while the proportion of people who end up in hospital as a result of Omicron is smaller, we are definitely seeing significant increases.”
Experts warned yesterday that a New Year’s Eve party was the “perfect” vehicle for spreading the virus.
Professor Peter Openshaw, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, was asked about the prospect of untested people mixing.
“I think it’s very worrying,” he said. “We know that crowding in poorly ventilated spaces, particularly if shouting over loud music, is perfect in terms of transmitting this highly transmissible virus.”
Revellers in Scotland and Wales started to cross the borders to celebrate last night.
Both countries reintroduced measures after Christmas including nightclub closures.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had urged people not to travel to England to ring in the new year.
But last night, Newcastle Central Station saw groups of Scots preparing to enjoy the city’s famous nightlife.
Sarah Hall, 23, who had travelled from Dunbar, said: “I do find it ridiculous that we can’t go out at home, but we can in Newcastle.”