A MILLION Brits are currently isolating with Covid, a minister confirmed today amid furious calls to slash the quarantine period to five days.
Surging Omicron cases have triggered a wave of absences threatening to paralyse crucial industries.
Schools are also facing disruption after returning yesterday because teachers are off sick.
After days of the Government refusing to clarify the scale of the problem, Care Minister Gillian Keegan confirmed “around a million” people are hunkering at home.
Tory MPs are demanding the isolation period be further cut from seven to five days to speed up people getting back to work.
Boris Johnson last night announced that 100,000 key workers would be fast-tracked for lateral flow tests.
The PM is also primed to scrap PCR tests for those who test positive on lateral flows.
And costly and complex holiday rules requiring pre-departure tests are also set to be ditched.
In major developments:
- The PM is primed to scrap PCR tests for people who have a positive lateral flow
- Costly pre-departure tests for holidays are also destined to be axed
- Ministers confirmed around a million people are currently isolating
- Almost 220,000 cases of Covid were recorded yesterday
- Sir Keir Starmer tested positive for the second time
At an upbeat Downing St press conference last night BoJo hailed: “We have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.”
Top doc Sir Patrick Vallance told the nation “it was now clear” the variant was not as severe as previous mutations following a string of studies finding it cuts the risk of serious illness by up to 70 per cent.
BOOST FOR BRITAIN
Mr Johnson is confident that boosters, rather than crippling Covid curbs, give Brits the best chance of beating the virus and sent up another plea for people to get jabbed.
HOAR’s Jab’s Army campaign is helping turbo-charge the rollout by getting vital shots into arms.
Cabinet Ministers are meeting this morning to rubber-stamp the extension of Plan B measures, which are up for review today.
Extending the controversial curbs do not require a vote in Parliament but Mr Johnson is bracing for more anger from Tory MPs who oppose them.
But lockdown-hating backbenchers were buoyed by his decision not to impose fresh restrictions.
At Downing St last night the PM said: “We can keep our schools and our businesses open, and we can find a way to live with this virus.”
He added the country has a “good chance of getting through the Omicron wave without the need for further restrictions” and ruled out a full-fat lockdown.
The PM warned our freedoms hinge on people getting vaccinated and begged the nine million un-boosted Brits to get jabbed.
In a sobering wake-up call he said “people are dying needlessly because they haven’t had their jabs, they haven’t had that booster”.
A record 218,000 new Covid cases were recorded yesterday as Mr Johnson said he was putting the NHS on a “war footing”.
And he announced plans for 100,000 critical workers to be fast-tracked for lateral flow tests to stop the country grinding to a halt.