Boris Johnson Warns NHS Will Face “Considerable” Pressure Over Coming Weeks
Boris Johnson has warned that the NHS will face “considerable” pressure throughout January due to the Omicron variant, but ruled out bringing in any further coronavirus restrictions.
He added that although it is believed that Omicron is “plainly milder” than previous strains, the virus “continues to surge through the country”.
“I think we’ve got to recognise that the pressure on our NHS, on our hospitals, is going to be considerable in the course of the next couple of weeks, and maybe more,” Johnson told reporters during a visit to a vaccination hub in Buckinghamshire.
The Prime Minister pledged that the government would “look after our NHS any way that we can” but denied that further coronavirus restrictions would be needed to cut case numbers.
He said that Omicron, though “incredibly transmissible”, was “different from previous variants” and was “putting fewer people into ICU”.
“Sadly, the people who are getting into ICU are the people who aren’t boosted, so get boosted,” he added.
Johnson said he “appreciated” the pressure hospitals were under amid growing case numbers and that the government was “looking at what we can do” to alleviate the staffing shortages faced by many regions in the UK.
“I would say to everybody looking at the pressures on the NHS in the next couple of weeks, and maybe longer, looking at the numbers of people who are going to be going into hospital, it will be absolute folly to say that this thing is all over now,” he continued.
“We’ve got to remain cautious. We got to stick with Plan B. We’ve got to get boosted.”
Johnson announced that England would enter its ‘Plan B’ to tackle coronavirus in December following the rise of the highly-infectious Omicron variant.
Rules currently in place include requiring face coverings in most indoor settings, guidance to work from home, and compulsory Covid-status passes for certain mass entertainment venues.
The government also announced further restrictions for schools on Sunday, including requiring face coverings in classrooms, regular testing of pupils and merging classes if staff shortages made it necessary.
The PM’s comments come after the number of new infections hit 137,583 on Sunday, bringing the total number of positive tests recorded between 27 December 2021 and 2 January 2022 to 1.1 million.
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