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UK makes Omicron contingency plans

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a COVID vaccination centre at the Rainbow Pharmacy in the Open University Campus, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, England.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a COVID vaccination centre at the Rainbow Pharmacy in the Open University Campus, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, England.

UK,US,: The UK Government has been making contingency plans in case hospitals, schools and other workplaces are hit by major staff shortages amid the country’s record-breaking spike in coronavirus infections.

Public sector workplaces have been preparing for staff absences ranging from 10% to 25% as COVID-19 sickens more people or forces them to isolate, the Cabinet Office said.

Cabinet Office Minister Stephen Barclay said there had already been “significant” absences and the government was preparing for “every eventuality”.

“It’s important that those contingency plans are refreshed and that we take measures to mitigate those impacts,” Barclay said.Meanwhile, The United States is experiencing “almost a vertical increase” in Covid cases as the Omicron variant sweeps the country, but the peak may be only weeks away, top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

“We are definitely in the middle of a very severe surge and uptick in cases,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week,” calling the soaring infection rate “really unprecedented.”

With the Omicron variant of the virus sweeping around the world, more than 440,000 new cases were reported in the US on Friday, almost exactly 200,000 more than during a peak last February.

But Fauci said the experience of South Africa — where the strain was first detected in late November and peaked quickly, then subsided almost as quickly — offered some hope.

Evidence is mounting, he added, that Omicron is milder than previous variants. The US rates of deaths and hospitalizations have been far lower in recent weeks than during previous Covid surges.

The United States, like other countries, has been struggling to find a balance that will protect public health without gravely damaging the economy or slamming key services like policing and air travel.

With children set to return to school Monday following the year-end break, both Fauci and the US education secretary said they thought in-person instruction can be conducted safely if proper precautions are taken.

Fauci again pleaded with parents to be sure their children are vaccinated, wear masks and get tested if need be.

Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin says he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms while quarantining at home.

In a statement Sunday night, Austin said he plans to attend key meetings and discussions virtually in the coming week “to the degree possible.”

“I have informed my leadership team of my positive test result, as well as the President,” Austin said. “My staff has begun contact tracing and testing of all those with whom I have come into contact over the last week.”

Austin, 68, said he was fully vaccinated and received a booster in October.

– THE BANGKOK POST, THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

Tuesday, January 4, 2022 – 01:00











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