The U.K. is trying various strategies to mitigate the impact of record high coronavirus cases while attempting to stay true to a vow to avoid new lockdowns.
Among the latest moves, Boris Johnsons government is developing contingency plans to help companies and supply chains avoid disruptions caused by rising staff absences, the Financial Times reported.
Its asked private businesses to test the plans against a worst-case scenario of as much as 25% in workforce absences, according to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi told the Sunday Telegraph that secondary school students in England will be instructed to once again wear masks in classrooms as the omicron variant spreads.
That will bring the country in line with current measures in Scotland and Wales. The school masking plan for England is currently expected to end on Jan. 26, when virus measures known as Plan B are set to expire.
There were more than 162,000 positive tests for Covid-19 in England on Saturday, about four times the daily level from early December, extending a string of record highs tied to the highly-contagious omicron variant.
London was the strains first epicenter in the U.K., and while cases there appear to have
rising sharply in several other areas, including Northern Ireland, Northwest England, and much of Scotland.
U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Saturday
wrote in the Daily Mail that new curbs on our freedom must be an absolutely last resort, citing the enormous health, social and economic costs of lockdowns.
We start the new year in a far stronger position than 12 months ago, thanks to vaccines, testing and new treatments.
Restrictions must be an absolute last resort as we learn to live with Covid.
My article @DailyMailUKhttps://t.co/HDn0kNHopG
Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) January 1, 2022
Hospital admissions in the U.K., while rising, are far below last winters peak — a trend attributed to the nations high vaccination rate and aggressive booster program.
Chris Hopson, chief executive officer of NHS Providers, said Saturday in a lengthy Twitter post that there are currently many fewer, seriously ill, older people needing critical care compared with a year ago. Deaths from Covid have been holding steady at a fraction of the early-2021 peak.
Still, the National Health Service is under different, arguably more pressure compared with a year ago because of a massive backlog of non-Covid patients, he said.
Problem therefore less one of patient acuity, intensity of care and length of stay required. More one of sheer volume of patient numbers needing general & acute (G&A) beds. Particularly if numbers grow fast. Relentless demand growth, if sustained, becoming biggest concern. 10/25
Chris Hopson (@ChrisCEOHopson) January 1, 2022
NHS Providers represents workers in the health services hospitals, ambulance and mental health services.
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