Up to 1 in 10 people had Omicron over the New Year….

The Omicron variant is going through the population like a dose of salts.

Prof Ian Young told BBC News NI that about one in 10 people in some parts of Northern Ireland has the virus.

He said he expected a peak in the next two to three weeks.

Almost 12% of the total number of positive cases recorded since the start of the pandemic were reported in the past seven days.

Northern Ireland has recorded a total of 432,492 coronavirus cases, 50,627 of them in the past week.

Health Minister Robin Swann said the Omicron variant had brought an “unprecedent surge”, after more than 30,000 cases were recorded in the past four days.

But the good news is COVID hospital admissions are down more than 30 per cent on this time last year despite new cases being through the roof. From Seanín Graham in the Irish News.

Over the past seven days, a record 50,627 people have tested positive for the virus in Northern Ireland compared with just over 12,500 in the same period a year ago.

A total of 348 Covid patients were being treated across hospital wards yesterday – on January 4, 2021, the figure was 513.

Similar trends are being seen across the NHS and the Republic, which experts say is linked to the success of the vaccine rollout as well as the booster jab.

Omicron is now the dominant Covid variant and while highly infectious, it is also understood to be milder than the Delta strain.

The highest percentage of individuals testing positive over the past week in the north are aged 20-24 – with more than 10,500 infected – whereas school age children were linked to surging Delta infection levels in recent months.

So we have gotten lucky in that Omicron is bonkersly virulent but appears to be mostly mild.

I am not a medic but would it be the case that Omicron is a natural way of vaccinating the unvaccinated? Could we be nearing the end of the pandemic? Or will more dangerous strains emerge? We live in hope that 2022 will be the year we see the back of Covid or at least we are better able to deal with it if it joins the ranks of other seasonal illnesses.