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Early indicators are that Omicron is not filling up ICUs 

On Monday, local media reported that in Scotland only one Omicron patient has needed treatment in intensive care to date. 

This was despite a warning carried in the press of a “terrifying” wave of the variant on December 29th, with claims that “more people [would be] fighting for their lives in intensive care”.

“Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said this week’s record-breaking case numbers would pale in comparison with the peak of the Omicron wave, which is not expected for at least another two weeks,” The Times said before the end of December.

However, to date, the crowding of the ICUs with Omicron has not materialised.

From the Daily Record this week:

Only one patient with confirmed Omicron has required intensive care since the variant emerged in Scotland five weeks ago, according to official figures.

They indicate that fewer than 100 people with the new variant have needed hospital treatment.

The figures were described by the Scottish Government as encouraging but there was also a warning cases linked to the more infectious variant could still pile pressure on NHS Scotland because so many Scots are catching it and a proportion of them will get seriously ill.

One in 40 people in Scotland were estimated to have Covid last week, official figures show, with around 80% of new cases shown to be Omicron, according to the first minister.

Yesterday, the Scottish authorities cut the self-isolation period for close contacts from 10 days to seven, a move welcomed by businesses which have been crippled by staff shortages.

Professor of public health Linda Bauld, a Scottish Government advisor, said that despite a “high volume of patients” with Omicron, they “might not be as unwell, which is encouraging” in crisis.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that “In hospitals around the country, doctors are taking notice: This wave of Covid seems different from the last one.”

Despite growing numbers in hospitals, fewer of those are requiring ICUs, the paper said.

“[I]in Omicron hot spots from New York to Florida to Texas, a smaller proportion of those patients are landing in intensive care units or requiring mechanical ventilation, doctors said. And many — roughly 50 to 65 percent of admissions in some New York hospitals — show up at the hospital for other ailments and then test positive for the virus.”

“We are seeing an increase in the number of hospitalizations,” said Dr. Rahul Sharma, emergency physician in chief for NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell hospital. But the severity of the disease looks different from previous waves, he said. “We’re not sending as many patients to the I.C.U., we’re not intubating as many patients, and actually, most of our patients that are coming to the emergency department that do test positive are actually being discharged.”

Before Christmas, data from three countries – South Africa, Denmark and the UK – showed that people infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant were up to 80% less likely to require hospital treatment compared with the Delta strain.

Dr Coetzee, Chair of the South African Medical Association told LBC in an interview on Sunday, 12th December that: “There’s no reason why you can’t trust us when we say to you [Omicron is] a mild disease.”

Official figures for Ireland show 94 people with Covid in the ICU as at 5th January 2021.


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