Britain can ‘ride out’ the Omicron wave without any new curbs amid record 218,000 cases, says Boris Johnson


BRITAIN can “ride out the Omicron wave”, the PM insisted last night, despite staff sickness hitting transport and schools.

As a record 218,000 new Covid cases were confirmed yesterday, Boris Johnson ruled out any new curbs.

The Prime Minister ruled out any new curbs and said that Britain will ride out the Omicron wave
Boris Johnson said that the country will find a way to live with Covid

Some 100,000 key workers can also skip test queues to keep Britain open. Britain can find a way to live with Covid, the PM declared last night.

Boris Johnson said the pandemic is “far from over” but we can ride the Omicron wave.

Thousands of train journeys were cancelled yesterday and rubbish left to rot in streets as an estimated one million Brits were off sick.

But the PM said he will recommend to Cabinet today that Plan B measures — face masks, working from home and Covid passes — should be retained instead of new restrictions.

He also set out a plan to keep Britain moving by fast-tracking Covid tests for critical workers such as food supply chain providers and air traffic controllers.

In other developments:

  • NINE million eligible Brits have yet to come forward for a jab – with nearly two million vaccine slots still available this week.
  • THE PM says it is “absolutely crazy” the majority in intensive care with Covid are unjabbed as eight hospital trusts warned they were at breaking point.
  • THE PM hinted that three jabs will be needed to prove vaccination status on Covid passes for clubs and stadiums within weeks.
  • AN end for confirmatory PCR tests could be announced within days to ease strain on the system.
  • THE PM again rejected calls to reduce isolation to five days to ease staffing problems.

‘Keep our country open’

Buoyed by latest data, he insisted pressure on intensive care units was less severe than before as Omicron is milder than previous variants. He also deemed another national lockdown very unlikely.

At the first No10 Covid briefing of 2022, he said: “We have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our businesses once again.

“We can keep our schools and businesses open and find a way to live with this virus. The best way to contain this virus, help our NHS and keep our country open, is to Get Boosted Now.”

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Further restrictions would damage “people’s life chances, mental health and the economy”, he warned.

But he accepted the weeks ahead will be “challenging” and “some services will be disrupted”.

It came as Omicron-related isolations saw rail services cancelled, bins overflowing and schools hit. An estimated one million Brits were off work yesterday as daily UK infection rates rose above 200,000 for the first time.

Train bosses faced with huge holes in staff rotas ran reduced services in areas including London, Yorkshire and Manchester. Some 6,000 staff, around one in 10, were off, said the Rail Delivery Group.

Bins and recycling containers were also left spilling over in some parts of the country as the crisis deepened. It also came as millions of kids began heading back to school yesterday as part of a staggered return over the week.

School chiefs estimate around one in ten workers are off sick – and warn it will get worse when everyone is back mixing in class.

The chairman of exam regulator Ofqual, Ian Bauckham, warned schools may have to temporarily drop some “specialist” subjects like music and wellbeing classes. And as the scramble for lateral flow tests intensified, schools were told to order more packs by 5pm yesterday or risk a two-week delay.

The PM last night announced that critical workers who cannot do it from home — including those in national security, transport and food distribution — will get free tests for at least five weeks. He also repeatedly played down the prospect of new restrictions, like in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He insisted his approach was the “right balance” but advised “utmost caution”. He said: “We’ve a good chance of getting through the Omicron wave without the need for further restrictions. And without the need, certainly, for a lockdown.”

But last night the Royal College of Nursing said nurses will have watched the PM in disbelief.

Chief executive Pat Cullen said: “Vaccinations alone will not reduce infections and hospitalisations. More must be done to prioritise nursing staff for access to testing and high-quality PPE.”

The US also recorded one million new cases of Covid yesterday – the highest the world has seen so far.         

It comes as a record 218,000 new cases were confirmed yesterday
Rubbish left to rot in streets as an estimated one million Brits were off sick

Meanwhile, thousands of train journeys were also cancelled

But Boris Johnson warned that further restrictions would damage ‘people’s life chances, mental health and the economy’

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