Bloomberg – The UK is testing various strategies to limit the impact of record COVID-19 cases on healthcare and other sectors, while trying to live up to its promise of avoiding further closures.
In the latest measures, The Boris Johnson government is developing contingency plans To help businesses and supply chains avoid disruptions caused by increased employee absenteeism, reports the Financial Times.
He has asked private companies to test plans in a worst-case scenario, according to the newspaper, with an increase in sick leave by up to 25%.
Covid-related absenteeism among hospital staff increased by nearly two-thirds between December 26 and December 31The Times reported on Sunday, citing data from the National Health Service.
The situation is worse at the regional level, the newspaper reported, as a London hospital had to close because half of the nursing staff were on sick leave. Healthcare workers have also had difficulty accessing COVID tests.
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Meanwhile, Education Secretary Nadim Jahavi told the Sunday Telegraph that England high school students will be instructed to reuse face masks in classrooms as the Omicron version is rolled out.
In doing so, the country will arm itself with measures implemented in Scotland and Wales. The masking scheme in schools in England is currently expected to end on 26 January, when anti-virus measures known as Plan B are in place.
Over 162,000 tested positive for COVID-19 in England on Saturday, an extension of a series of all-time highs related to the highly infectious Omicron variant, nearly four times the daily level in early December.
London was the first epicenter of the Omicron strain in the UK, and although cases appear to have stabilized there, growing significantly in other areasSuch as Northern Ireland, North West England and much of Scotland.
The UK’s Health Protection Agency noted in a blog post that self-isolation rules have been eased and the ability to return to work after five days instead of the current seven. This will make the situation worse. Their model showed that a third of people would remain infectious for up to six days after testing positive.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid wrote in the Daily Mail on Saturday that The new “restrictions on liberty should absolutely be the last resort”, citing the “enormous health, social and economic costs of imprisonment”.
Hospital admissions in the UK, on the rise, are well below their peak last winter, a trend attributed to the country’s high vaccination rate and an aggressive booster programme.
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NHS Providers CEO Chris Hopson said in a lengthy Twitter post on Saturday that “At present there is very little need for critical care for critically ill older people” compared to a year ago. Covid deaths have remained stable at a fraction of the peak in early 2021.
In a December study, HSA hypothesized that Omicron, while more contagious than previous strains, appeared to be less severe. A person with an omicron is up to 70% less likely to be hospitalized, the agency said.
Still, the NHS is “different, possibly under more pressure” than it was a year ago because of the huge backlog of non-Covid patients, Hopson said.
NHS providers represent workers in hospitals, ambulances and healthcare mental health services.
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