British Health Minister Sajid Javed said on Saturday that despite the growing number of Omicron cases, it was important to learn that the new sanctions would only interfere with the “last resort” in England and that the coronavirus needed to “learn to live”.
Also read: Live | Recent developments on coronavirus
The United Kingdom, one of the most affected countries with nearly 149,000 deaths due to the epidemic, records pollution records every day (more than 163,000 in 24 hours on Saturday).
Although officials currently emphasize that the Omicron variant causes less severe forms than the Delta, hospital admissions are also on the rise.
“The number of intensive care units (people) is stable and is not currently following the trajectory we saw last year during this period during the Alpha Wave,” Sajid Javed said in a column published in the Daily Mail.
Thanks to the massive vaccine booster campaign, the government decided not to impose new restrictions on vacations in England as the country was “in a very strong position”, which continued in Wales and Northern Ireland rather than Scotland.
“Restrictions on our freedom should only interfere as a last resort,” Mr Javid added in the tabloid. Emphasizing the “immense health, social and economic cost of detention,” he felt he needed to provide himself with ways to “live with the virus” through vaccination, a arsenal of treatments and massive screening.
The minister, however, acknowledged that the health service would be “inevitably” under pressure in the coming weeks due to the “sharp increase” in hospitals.
In particular, according to the Sunday Times, more than 110,000 health workers, or about a tenth of the public health service’s (NHS) workforce, were absent on Friday, with nearly 50,000 reported cases of contamination or subsequent contact with COVID-19.
The Daily Telegraph, however, indicated on Saturday that the government may extend the teleworking recommendation from mid-December to January.
Education Minister Nadim Zahawi has announced that the government will recommend high school students to wear masks in class when they return to school next week. He warned in the Telegraph on Sunday that “some distance education may be required” due to the absence of students and teachers.
For the New Year, Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had achieved the official goal of offering a booster dose to all adults by the end of December, although more than 70% of people in England accepted it.
According to a study published by the British Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) on Friday, patients infected with Omicron who received the vaccine booster had an 81% lower risk of being hospitalized than those who were not vaccinated.
The Public Health Service (NHS) has announced that it will set up temporary structures to open hundreds of beds to prepare for the “worst case scenario”.