The number of Covid-19 Omicron variant cases in Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell

Birmingham has the 11th highest number of cases in England

The spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant has been compared to an ‘express train’ with ministers considering calls for a Christmas lockdown.

SAGE experts have urged restrictions as two-week circuit breaker lockdown was mooted by minister

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has not ruled out the possibility of Christmas measures, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that there are “no guarantees in this pandemic”.

But Prof Carl Heneghan, the director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, warned that the country was in “deep, deep trouble” if it entered into “annual winter lockdowns”.

Latest government figures show that Birmingham has 733 suspected cases of Omicron Variant - and 25 confirmed cases.

This is the 11th highest total of cases across England, according to the UK Health Security Agency - which published a breakdown of Omicron cases in each English local authority up to 15 December on Friday afternoon (17 December).

Last week BirminghamWorld reported Birmingham had three confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, with 19 suspected.

What about Omicron cases in Solihull and Sandwell?

There are 250 Omicron cases in Solihull - 243 suspected cases and seven confirmed.

This is the 70th highest figure for England. Last week it had none.

The figures show there are a total of 187 Omicron cases in Sandwell - 17 confirmed and 170 suspected.

This is the 97th highest number out of all 308 local authorities in England. Last week Sandwell had two confirmed cases with six suspected.

How is the data compiled?

Confirmed cases have been through the process of genome sequencing to determine which variant they are.

However, only about one in every six positive PCR tests are sent for genome sequencing and the process can take many days.

Confirmed and suspected Omicron cases in England, to December 15

Darker areas have more Omicron cases.

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A quicker way to spot potential Omicron cases is to look for a marker called the S-gene, which is missing in variants such as Omicron and Alpha but present in Delta cases.

Once identified, swabs showing so-called ‘S-gene drop-out’ can then be sent for definitive testing for Omicron.

In these figures, it is the number of cases showing ‘S gene drop-out’ which have been marked as suspected cases.

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