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UK’s Johnson to hold Coronavirus press conference today

© Reuters.

By Samuel Indyk – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to hold a press conference at 17:00GMT as cases of the Omicron COVID variant remain high throughout Britain.

Johnson is not expected to announce new restrictions for England but could make announcements on new policies, according to Times Radio presenter Tom Newton Dunn.

Johnson has, so far, decided against imposing strict lockdown measures in England, whereas the devolved nations introduced certain restrictions after Christmas.

In Scotland, nightclubs have been closed and large-scale events have been cancelled, while crowd restrictions are in place at sporting events.

The Welsh government has limited gatherings to groups of no more than six people in pubs, cinemas, and restaurants, and said outdoor events are limited to 50.

The press conference from Johnson comes as daily case numbers remain high. On Monday, the government announced 157,758 people tested positive for coronavirus in the previous 24 hours in England and Scotland.

Hospitalisations have also crept higher but the numbers being treated in hospitals remain well below the peak seen in earlier waves.

Although it seems clear that the severity of illness from Omicron is milder than previous variants, the sheer volume of people with coronavirus has led to staff shortages as hospital staff are forced to isolate.

Over the weekend, the United Lincolnshire hospitals NHS trust was the first to declare a “critical incident” over what they described as “extreme and unprecedented” shortages of staff. The Guardian reported that at least seven other NHS trusts have issued alerts over “internal critical incidents” in recent days.

Although there has been little speculation about what Johnson might say, to combat the shortages, the Prime Minister could announce plans to cut the isolation period for hospital staff who test positive to help ease the strain on hospitals who are facing severe disruptions.

UK’s Johnson to hold Coronavirus press conference today

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