UK urges volunteers to fight wave of Omicron infections
LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling on thousands of volunteers to staff new immunization centers in shopping malls, stadiums and racetracks as the government steps up a ramp-up program to combat the variant. coronavirus Omicron.
The push comes two days after Johnson set a goal of giving booster shots to all adults by the end of the year to stem the omicron wave. UK health authorities say the number of Omicron infections is doubling every two to three days, and this variant is now responsible for around 200,000 new cases a day.
Due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant in the UK, the UK government removed regulations banning travelers from 11 countries, mainly in southern Africa, and required those returning to the UK to self-quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.
Health Minister Sajid Javid said all countries on the “red list” would be removed at 04:00 GMT on Wednesday.
“We need tens of thousands of people to help – everyone from trained vaccinators to administrators,” says Johnson. “Many thousands of people have given their time – but we need you to keep coming back, to work alongside our outstanding GPs, doctors, nurses and pharmacists, to deliver injection and save lives.”
Long lines formed on Tuesday at vaccination centers across Britain as the National Health Service raced to meet the government’s target of delivering up to 1 million shots a day, more than double compared to recent daily averages.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday that logistical problems in expanding the vaccination program would subside during the week.
“It takes a few days to make sure we reach a steady state,” Raab told the BBC, adding: “We’re going to continue to stretch every tendon to make sure that can be achieved.”
Britain’s National Health Service said Monday was the second-highest day for orders for the COVID-19 booster. More than 650,000 appointments have been booked.
Emily Lawson, UK vaccine team leader at the NHS, said: “It has been fantastic to see the positive response from the public so far. “The data is clear – enhanced is our best hope for protecting people against the new variant.”
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, told government ministers that based on current data, a “significant increase in hospital admissions” due to omicrons is expected.
Over the past week, an average of 811 people per day were hospitalized with COVID-19.
There are now around 7,400 coronavirus patients in UK hospitals, down from a peak of more than 39,000 in mid-January.
Only 10 of them tested positive for the Omicron variant.
Throughout the pandemic, one of the government’s main goals has been to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. This is especially important during winter, when UK hospitals are often stressed due to high numbers of flu and other cold-related illnesses.
In a speech to the nation on Sunday, Johnson said that everyone 18 and older would get a third dose of the vaccine by December 31 – a month earlier than the previous target. Johnson said the booster would “fortify our vaccine defense wall” against “a tidal wave of omicrons”.
UK health authorities say omicrons, which are more transmissible than previous variants, will become the most common type of COVID-19 in the UK within the next few days. Javid told lawmakers on Monday that omicrons will dominate in London “within 48 hours.”
Scientists in South Africa, where the Omicron outbreak is more advanced, say this variant can cause less severe disease than the delta variant but be aware that it’s too early to be sure.
Health authorities around the world are closely watching Britain to see what an increase in omicrons looks like in a country with an older, more vaccinated population than South Africa.