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Omicron cases surge from one to more than 100 in two weeks

More than 100 new cases of the coronavirus have been logged, health officials said last night.

Cases have more than doubled since the last update – up to 152 from the 62 confirmed last Thursday.

The number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant has also shot up to 74.

But that number could be much higher. Scientists have been able to identify the variant type in just 89 of the 152 current cases – meaning that the variant has still to be identified in 63 cases.

The number of Omicron cases has mushroomed in the last two weeks. The first case was confirmed on December 7, doubling to two on December 9.

By last Thursday, that number had risen to 31, and has more than doubled again in the past five days.

The Cabinet’s Covid-19 committee met yesterday, and Kim Wilson, the health minister, is scheduled to hold a press conference this afternoon at 3pm, which The Royal Gazette will carry live.

Despite the rapid infection rates, yesterday Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, said he did not anticipate the island going into another lockdown.

Last night Ms Wilson, the health minister, said: “As I have said before, we cannot become complacent.

“We must continue to be extra vigilant to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the fast-spreading virus.”

Ms Wilson warned: “The coronavirus thrives on human contact, and as we head into the holiday season, we must continue to follow public health guidance.”

She told the public: “Our health and safety depends on being vaccinated and getting your booster, wearing masks, physical distancing, proper ventilation and good hand hygiene.”

The 102 positive cases were among 8,342 test results that came back to health officials since Thursday’s update.

Of the new cases, 71 were from overseas, 24 were classed as on-island transmissions and seven are under investigation.

In cases from overseas, 91 per cent occurred in fully vaccinated people.

For the on-island transmissions and cases under investigation, 88 per cent were in fully vaccinated people.

Variant typing was available for 89 of the active cases, with the Delta variant present in 15 people.

There have been 12 recoveries since Thursday.

One victim is in hospital but not in intensive care.

The seven-day average of the island’s real time reproduction number for the virus is 0.98.

Ms Wilson also gave the hours for Covid-19 hotlines over the holidays, along with locations and schedules for test centres.

She reminded the public that people aged 65 and over are able to walk in for their booster shots today, Wednesday and Thursday at Pier 6 in Hamilton.

People eligible for the booster shot who are aged under 65 will need to book appointments.

· To see holiday operating details for Covid-19 testing sites and the call centre, click on the PDF in “Related Media”.

* The Government this morning changed the time of the press conference to 3pm. This story has been updated accordingly.

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Published December 21, 2021 at 3:44 pm (Updated December 21, 2021 at 3:44 pm)

Omicron cases surge from one to more than 100 in two weeks

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