The British returned to telecommuting on Monday and the government launched a race against time to administer before the end of the year booster shots to all adults against Omicron variant, which has already left at least one dead in the country.
“Regrettably Ómicron is producing hospitalizations and sadly, at least one patient has been confirmed to have died “from this new variant of the coronavirus, the prime minister told reporters. Boris Johnson when visiting one of the vaccination centers before which long lines were formed to receive a third injection.
Some 15 days after its appearance in the country, 3,137 cases of Omicron have already been recorded in the UK, but the actual number is believed to be much higher and the government expects it to become the dominant variant within a few days.
According to Health Minister Sajid Javid, it is already responsible for 40% of infections in London.
“At the end of the day tomorrow will be the majority of the cases and it does not stop increasing,” warned Johnson, whose executive has set himself the titanic mission of having offered a third dose to everyone over 18 years of age before December 31.
These involve almost a million daily injections, for which more vaccination centers were opened, for more hours a day and with the help of the army.
But the appointment website crashed Sunday night following Johnson’s speech to the nation, and he was still in trouble on Monday.
The same service also reported that the antigen tests that the English public health distributes free of charge and that those who are close contact of an infected with omicron must now do daily.
Johnson called for “putting aside” the “idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus.” “The best we can do is get vaccinated all,” he insisted.
Teleworking and health passports
“I did not think there would be so many people! It is incredible,” Sarah Jackson, a 29-year-old Londoner who waited in front of a vaccination center was told AFP two hours to register and two more to receive the injection.
“I’m going to see my grandparents for Christmas, but I don’t know if it will be enough, “he explained, lamenting that despite having taken the morning off he would have to miss work and criticizing the government for having reacted late.
Of 66 million inhabitants, the United Kingdom, which with more than 146,000 dead It is one of the countries in Europe most affected by the pandemic, it had already decreed last week precautionary measures against omicrons such as the use of masks in almost all closed places and teleworking, which came into force this Monday.
However, early in the morning traffic was heavy in office areas such as the City of London, an AFP journalist found, and many buses were crowded.
Starting this week, health passports will also be required in crowded places such as nightclubs and soccer stadiums.
These measures have angered some deputies of Johnson’s Conservative Party, who on Tuesday threaten a major rebellion when Parliament votes on the new rules, which, however, are guaranteed approval thanks to the support of the opposition Labor Party.
It would be a new severe setback for the prime minister, greatly weakened by a series of scandals related to alleged parties held in Downing Street last winter, when they were banned by the pandemic and the British were deprived of Christmas family gatherings.
Faced with an economy that begins to take off after the lifting of the majority of restrictions against Covid-19 Last summer, the executive resisted closing shops or schools, forcing parents to stay home with their children.
Thus, while waiting to know the impact on health of this highly contagious variant, detected for the first time in November in South Africa and which is spreading throughout the world, “our strategy has been to buy time to evaluate it and build our defenses” avoiding hospitals are overwhelmed, Javid explained to the Sky News channel.
Due to the rapid increase in infections, the alert level was raised on Sunday from three to four, the second highest on a scale of five, indicating that “transmission is high” and the pressure on health “significant or growing”.