Omicron: UK doctors warn of impending breaking point

LONDON – Britain’s Association of Primary Nurses warned on Monday that burnout and rising coronavirus cases among healthcare workers are pushing them to tipping point, putting more pressure on the government to The new restrictions aim to reduce the record-high number of infections caused by the omicron variant.

Patricia Marquis, union director of the Royal College of Nurses, said the situation over the next few weeks looked “very bleak”, as more and more cases of absenteeism due to illness and self-isolation left the sick. Hospitals are struggling to deal with postponed procedures and normal winter treatment. illness along with coronavirus cases.

She told the BBC: “In many places, they are under great stress and pressure, and as a result, they are starting to get sick from COVID, and at the same time exhausted mentally and physically. “So the employees are looking ahead and thinking, ` `Oh my gosh, what’s coming?”

Having repeatedly promised not to repeat last year’s Christmas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a painful choice: destroy the holiday plans of millions or face a wave of cases and scandals. discontinuity.

Many governments in Europe and the United States face similar dilemmas about how hard it is to find omicrons, which appear to be more contagious than the previous delta variant that itself led to the increase increased in many parts of the world. Early evidence suggests that omicrons may also cause less severe disease – although scientists warn it is still too early to tell – and that it may evade better vaccine protection.

Even if it usually causes fewer severe cases, omicrons can still overwhelm health systems because of the sheer number of infections.

But many political leaders are reluctant to impose the tough measures they took earlier during the pandemic – often because they have promised their people a vaccine will provide a way out of the restrictions. such institutions and may not be able to impose them again politically.

In the US, the prospect of a cold winter caused by a wave of coronavirus infections is a stark reversal from the optimism President Joe Biden predicted about 10 months ago, when he suggested that the basically will be back to normal by Christmas this year. France is desperately trying to avoid a new round of lockdowns that could hurt the economy and cloud President Emmanuel Macron’s expected re-election campaign.

Meanwhile, Johnson, whose power has been plagued by weeks of political scandals, is caught between calls from scientific advisers about new limits on social interaction today and opposition. fiercely within his Conservative Party over any such restriction.

Earlier this month, Johnson’s government reinstated regulations requiring face masks in stores and required people to present proof of vaccinations or a negative coronavirus test before entering nightclubs and crowded venues. other casting. But many scientists say tougher action is needed.

British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab on Monday said he could not “give hard and quick assurances” that new restrictions would not be announced this week.

Government ministers are discussing a number of options, from non-binding guidance for people to limit gatherings during festivals to mandatory social distancing and curfews for bars and houses row.

The rate at which omicrons are spreading in the UK, where cases are doubling about every two days, is weakening the economy during the busy period before Christmas. Usually a lot of theaters and restaurants are being affected by the cancellations. Some eateries and pubs are closed until after the holiday because too many employees are taking sick leave or self-isolating. The Natural History Museum, one of London’s top attractions, said on Monday it would be closed for a week because of a “staff shortage”.

The hotel industry is urging the government to provide financial support, as it did earlier during the pandemic with grants, loans and a pay scheme for millions of high-income workers. Those programs were canceled after Britain lifted restrictions in the summer.

The Dutch government began a nationwide lockdown on Sunday to curb a sharp rise in infections, at least in part attributed to the omicron variant. But other European countries have chosen something less.

France and Germany have banned most British tourists from entering. Ireland imposes an 8pm curfew on pubs and bars and restricts attendance to indoor and outdoor events.

These countries are keeping a watchful eye on the UK, which is currently among the worst affected by the omicron variation.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK have increased by 50% in a week. The government on Sunday reported an additional 82,886 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day. With more than 147,000 deaths, Britain has the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in Europe after Russia.

Hospitalizations are growing much more slowly, but health groups are warning that hospitals are under strain in London, which has been hardest hit so far by the omicron wave.

The British Medical Association has warned that nearly 50,000 doctors, nurses and other National Health Service staff in the UK could become ill with COVID-19 on Christmas Day unless moderation measures are in place. .

Medics’ time and energy is also being diverted to delivering vaccine boosters – consistent with early data that the extra shot helps protect against the variant. Johnson has aimed to make it available to everyone 18 years of age and older by the end of December. More than 900,000 booster shots were given on Sunday, because of football stadiums, shopping malls and homes. Churches have been turned into makeshift vaccination clinics.


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