Questions will be raised as to why Boris Johnson is adheres to plan B in England when several hospitals have declared critical incidents – although the Prime Minister insists that he proceed with “extreme caution” over Omicron.
Sir. Johnson says it is important to create a “balance” to protect the NHS and protect the economy and people’s livelihoods.
There are 15,000 people in the hospital with Covid, which is the highest level since the end of last February, but that is half the number at this time last year.
And there is optimism in Whitehall that clinically, Omicron does not affect hospitals in the same way as previous variants: not only is it less likely to cause serious illness, but patients who are admitted spend less time in the wards.
The more severe cases tend to be unvaccinated, and among the seriously ill patients who have had their jabs, they typically need oxygen for up to two days in the hospital rather than being admitted to the intensive care unit.
Proportion of persons primarily treated for Covid – rather than otherwise testing positive after being admitted for something else – is around 70 per cent, with the 50/50 distribution in London hospitals, an analysis by the government is expected to show this week.
With shorter stays and fewer patients becoming seriously ill from the virus, it is not surprising that the Prime Minister has so far decided to stick to Plan B.
The pressure comes instead from staff shortages (which are nowhere more acute than in the NHS) and drives the critical incidents at several hospitals.
Measures to alleviate these absences are on the rise, with tests for critical workers, volunteers and NHS reservists being called in to help with clinical and accessory needs, and the Army on standby.
It is hoped that this will be enough to allow ministers to find a balance between protecting the NHS and ensuring that everyday life can continue as normally as possible for a population that is 60 percent boosted.