A PUBLIC health boss has warned of an imminent spike in hospitalisations as Omicron sweeps through Southend and is urging residents to stay safe over Christmas which is set to go ahead.

Southend’s director of public health Krishna Ramkhelawon said on Friday health chiefs were expecting hospitals to see a large rise in Covid admissions in the “next 48 hours”.

“We are fighting two epidemics at the same time,” he said, referring to the prevalent Omicron and Delta variants.

“In Southend our estimation is that about 20 per cent of our cases are Omicron.”

He added: “Already the system is buckling, it’s at its highest level of operation. Now it is about how we safely look at discharging low-risk younger people so we can manage the demand that will be required.

“At this stage we are not anticipating any additional needs for beds or capacity, we just need to make sure we keep the workforce safe.”

Southend Council is focused on expanding is vaccination program – which has seen 40,000 jabs delivered at the Civic Centre since August.

“Our focus is advising people we are in touch with who have not had a booster to go and get one,” Mr Ramkhelawon said.

“We are now doubling our vaccination drive at the request of the NHS. The Civic Centre is being used and we have also got two additional GP clinics open, one at Queensway Surgery and another at Valkyrie Surgery.”

The borough has implemented plans to provide vaccination centres with jab deliveries twice a day after supplies ran short on Monday, culminating in people being turned away.

Mr Ramkhelawon says the new system means “nobody should be turned away moving forward”.

He continued: “As Christmas approaches, I am urging local people to act sensibly and responsibly. Please adhere to the plan B measures in place, please wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed places, continue to wash your hands regularly and please ventilate rooms if you are meeting indoors.”

Councillor Cheryl Nevin, cabinet member for adult social care and health integration, said: “Please enjoy a safe Christmas by adhering to all national measures in place and by acting with common sense and responsibility.”