The UK government has developed an emergency response plan in case hospitals, schools and other workplaces suffer a severe staff shortage amid a record surge in coronavirus infections in the country.
As per the Cabinet Office, public sector workplaces prepare for absenteeism from 10% to 25% of employees, as COVID-19 makes more people sick and isolated.
Highly contagious variants of Omicron have pushed the number of new daily cases in the UK for Christmas and New Year to the new daily high of 1,89,000 on December 31. With an additional 1,37,583 infections and 73 deaths on Sunday in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, figures are yet to be released after the weekend holidays.
As per the Office for National Statistics, 1 in 25 people in the UK, or about 2 million, was infected with the COVID-19 during the week leading up to Christmas. In London, that number was one in fifteen.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Stephen Berkeley said there was a serious absence, and the government was prepared for an emergency.
Berkley states that it is vital to update these emergency response plans and take steps to mitigate these impacts.
Ministers are calling for more virus testing, better ventilation at schools and workplaces, and increased support for convening former teachers and volunteers to prevent absenteeism from seriously impacting schools.
Devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have put restrictions on the events and social gatherings in the face of the rapidly expanding Omicron.
However, Health Minister Sajjid Javid says adding new restrictions is the last resort for England, despite rising daily infections rates. Berkeley re-approved the strategy on Sunday, arguing that the reintroduction of light restrictions in December, when Omicron began to take hold, resulted in a significant behavioural change in which people reduced social contact.