U.K. hospitals will face ‘considerable pressure’, Boris Johnson amid spike in COVID cases
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said that the U.K.‘s state-run hospitals will face “considerable pressure” in the coming weeks due to the steep rise in virus infections.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccine centre, Mr. Johnson said “the pressure on our NHS hospitals is going to be considerable in the course of the next couple of weeks and maybe more” as “Omicron continues to surge through the country”.
The U.K. saw record numbers of cases in the last days of 2021 though it has not released figures for the whole country this year.
The country is one of Europe’s worst affected with a death toll of nearly 1,49,000.
The Prime Minister said that he was aware of high levels of hospital staff absences due to COVID-19, adding: “we’re looking at what we can do to move people into those areas that are particularly badly affected”.
Around 50,000 NHS staff were absent from work on Friday because they were ill or self-isolating due to COVID-19, The Sunday Times reported.
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals in England, told Sky News that “the pressure on hospitals outside London is now growing” after the capital bore the brunt of virus cases earlier.
Mr. Johnson urged the public to get a booster vaccination, saying there are slots available for two million people this week. So far almost 34 million people have received the booster jabs.
The Omicron variant “does seem pretty conclusively to be less severe than Delta or Alpha,” he said. “It is putting fewer people into ICU.”