Covid in Sheffield: 'Not safe' to assume Omicron variant is milder says public health director Greg Fell

Omicron has ‘not quite taken off’ in Sheffield yet, but it is only a matter of time before it does so, people have been warned.

Greg Fell, Sheffield’s director of public health, also said it was ‘not safe’ to assume the new Covid variant was milder than existing strains of the virus, as he urged people to get their booster jabs, or their first and second vaccine doses if they had not yet had those.

In the latest of his weekly updates, published on Tuesday, December 14, Mr Fell said Omicron was spreading incredibly quickly and he expected it to become the dominant strain in England by the end of the year at the latest.

Greg Fell, Sheffield's director of public health, says it is 'not safe' to assume the Omicron Covid variant will be milder

He said it was more infectious than the Delta variant and possibly more transmissible in the early stages before people start displaying symptoms.

He added that early evidence suggested a booster shot of vaccine was enough to protect you from serious illness but it was not too late to get your first or second doses.

“People say it’s milder. I’m not sure and I don’t think it’s safe to plan on that basis,” he said.

"It’s probably no more severe than Delta but I don’t think it’s safe to say it’s milder. It may be and that will be good news if it is but even if it is milder, a very much more transmissible virus means more numbers overall, some of whom will become poorly.”

Mr Fell said the NHS was already in a difficult position and this would make it worse, probably just after the Christmas period.

He reminded people to wear face masks, wash their hands regularly and if they have symptoms to stay at home, as has been the advice throughout the pandemic.

Regarding Christmas parties, he said that while these were still allowed under ‘Plan B’ restrictions, people choosing to attend them should do ‘as safely as you possibly can’.

Mr Fell’s latest update came as MPs voted on Tuesday to implement Plan B restrictions, despite a large Tory rebellion, meaning Covid passes or proof of a negative test will be required to access larger venues, face masks are mandatory in most indoor venues and people should work from home where it is possible to do so.