“We have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again”, the Prime Minister has said as he laid out measures to avoid enacting more restrictions, including daily tests for 100,000 “critical” workers.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said the “United Kingdom is in the midst of the fastest growth in COVID cases that we’ve ever known” and the NHS was “moving to a war footing” with 218,724 cases confirmed nationally.
“The weeks ahead are going to be challenging, both here in the UK and across the world. There is no escaping the fact that some services will be disrupted by staff absences, but we’ve been working through Christmas to prepare for this wherever possible,” he added.
However, he said: “If we all play our part in containing the spread of this virus, the disruptions we face can be far less severe than the national lockdown with all the devastation that would bring for the livelihoods and the life chances of our children.”
He outlined a number of measures including identifying 100,000 critical workers across a number of industries from food processing to the boarder force and sending lateral flow tests to them every working day from January 10.
Qualified teachers who have left the profession have been asked to return to fill temporary absences, while new Nightingale Hospitals are planned.
Around 2,500 “virtual beds” have been created to allow people to be treated at home, while new antiviral tablets are hoped to reduce hospitalisation.
” I will be recommending to cabinet tomorrow that we continue with Plan B because the public have responded and changed their behaviour, buying valuable time to get boosters in arms and help the NHS to cope with the Omicron wave,” he said.