The transmission of the Omicron variant is “extremely high”, although there is still uncertainty as to its impact on the NHS and the services at large, a leading expert has said.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the global wellcome charitable foundation, said “we are living through the most difficult and uncertain time, perhaps of the entire pandemic, certainly since March 2020.”
The prime minister did not reveal any new restrictions on Monday, but vowed to recall parliament if he decides to implement new restrictions, a process that takes 48 hours.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sajid Javid would like to reduce the isolation period from 10 days to seven days to tackle the number of NHS workers who do not work with Covid.
Scots should minimize their New Years socialization, said Nicola Sturgeon.
The Prime Minister urged people to minimize their contact with other households.
She told MSPs, âAs difficult as it is, please take this New Years advice – minimize Hogmanay’s socialization as much as possible.
âIf we follow all the advice to minimize the contact we have outside our own homes, we will help limit the spread of infections.
“This is the foundation of our plan for the immediate period to come.”
Theater union says Sunak engagement comes too slow
Bectu theater workers union leader Philippa Childs said the government’s recently announced support for the sector would come too slowly.
She said: âThe Culture Recovery Fund is not equipped to deal with the rapid response needed to alleviate the current Covid crisis for theaters and live events.
âIt focuses on buildings and not people, is too bulky and too slow.
“We need an emergency support program for our members who are facing another Christmas of work cancellations and uncertainty.”
Travel agencies “excluded from the assistance program”
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, has warned that travel agencies have been excluded from the government’s new financial support program.
He said: âIt is devastating that once again business travel and its supply chain has been excluded from government financial support.
âIt is imperative that the arts, hospitality and recreation be supported during the latest wave of the pandemic.
âHowever, a vital part of the UK economy and the engine of global Britain is left out in the cold.
“We urgently need the Treasury to correct this oversight and support our industry until 2022.”
Sweden could see up to 15,000 cases per day
Sweden could see more than 15,000 new cases of Covid per day in the worst case by mid-January, a record number, new projections from the Health Agency showed on Tuesday.
In previous waves of the pandemic, daily infections peaked at just over 11,000 cases.
The new model projection took into account the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant.
He assumed that the variant was 25% more contagious than the Delta variant and took into account the varying degrees of protection offered by vaccines.
Exhausted nurses ‘wonder what’s to come’ amid Omicron rise
The coming weeks “paint a very grim picture” for exhausted nurses as Covid infections rise, a union said.
It comes amid a severe staff shortage in health services, with absences caused by self-isolation increasing 18% from November 29 to December 9.
The picture is darker in London, where cases continue to rise. On December 12, staff absences had increased by 31% since the beginning of the month, from 1,174 to 1,540.
Patricia Marquis, English director of the Royal College of Nursing, said: âThe coming weeks paint a very dark picture for nurses who are already physically and emotionally drained from what has happened throughout the pandemic.
âIn many places, they are already starting to fall ill themselves from Covid-19, but also from mental and physical exhaustion.
âBefore the pandemic, there weren’t enough staff to provide what was needed. The staff are now eagerly waiting to think, “Oh my God, what’s coming up?” “
Funding envelope is “inadequate”, according to music industry
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said recently announced support for the culture sector was “far too weak” and “bordering on insult.”
He said: âBusinesses are failing, people are losing their livelihoods and the industry is crippled.
âThe open / close strategy crucifies businesses. Every help book is essential. But this package is far too small and bordering on insulting.
Mark Davyd, Founder and Managing Director of Music Venue Trust, said: âWe will need more details on the Â£ 30million envelope announced to support the cultural sector.
âOur first response is that this funding seems detached from reality.
“If this is correct, it would be inadequate to address the scale of the problem – we note that popular concert halls are not even mentioned in the statement although DCMS has all the evidence it needs that the losses in that sector alone will reach Â£ 22million by the end of January.
Rishi Sunak unveils Â£ 1 billion hospitality and leisure support package
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a Â£ 1 billion emergency support package for hospitality and leisure businesses hardest hit by the pre-Christmas trade collapse caused by the Omicron outbreak.
The advertised package consists of:
- Â£ 683million for targeted grants for hospitality and leisure businesses in England. Around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for grants which will be managed by local authorities and will be available in the coming weeks.
- Â£ 102million for businesses outside the hospitality and leisure sectors, but which could be vital to supply chains in those sectors. This is in addition to the Â£ 250million in funding previously allocated.
- Â£ 30million for theaters, orchestras and museums which have been forced to close again as people step up their caution in the face of the latest increase in Covid cases. This support will extend until March 2022.
- The return of the government sickness benefit reduction scheme (SSPRS) for companies with less than 250 employees. The plan reimburses companies for the cost of legal sickness benefits for absences linked to the Covid, up to two weeks per employee.
Diane Abbott calls on richer countries to forgo vaccine patents to save millions of lives
Barts hospital warns it may have to cancel operations
Barts Health NHS Trust in London has written to doctors warning them that it may have to cancel “some or a large part” of its operations scheduled for January to deal with the next wave of Covid, caused by the rapidly spreading Omicron variant , according to the BBC.
Train carnage as people flee the capital for Christmas
Rail operators blamed coronavirus-related staff shortages for widespread cancellations during the Christmas getaway.
A number of companies apply reduced hours due to sick leave or the isolation of workers.
CrossCountry said it “expects a widespread disruption to our services this week.”
He continued, “Please advance your trip as soon as possible to get to your final destination as soon as possible.”
Dozens of trains are canceled by the company every day, and many more have fewer cars than usual.
Cancellations have been made on several of its routes including Manchester to Bournemouth via Birmingham; Bristol in Paignton, Devon; Cardiff to Nottingham; and Birmingham to Stansted Airport.