England is building temporary hospitals to help cope with rising coronavirus cases, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a stern warning to those who are not fully vaccinated on Friday.
The new “augmentation centers” would deal with a possible glut of hospitalized patients, as rising virus cases would put the country’s health service on a “war footing,” according to officials.
Driven by the highly contagious variant Omicron, daily cases have skyrocketed, standing at more than 189,000 on Thursday.
While emphasizing the success of the booster launch, Johnson said he wanted to “speak directly to all of those who have not yet been fully vaccinated. People who think that the disease cannot harm them ”.
“Look at the people who go to the hospital now, that could be you. Look at the intensive care units and the miserable and unnecessary suffering of those who didn’t get their booster, that could be you, “he said.
NHS England said it would provide additional beds in structures on the grounds of eight hospitals in cities including London, Bristol and Leeds starting this week, each designed to house around 100 additional patients.
Outside St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, workers were already putting up a metal structure to support the roof of a new unit, AFP journalists saw on Thursday.
“Given the high level of Covid-19 infections and the rise in hospital admissions, the NHS is now on a war footing,” said National Medical Director Stephen Powis.
He added that he hoped that “we would never have to use these new centers.”
The additional beds are designed for patients recovering from illnesses, including those who no longer have Covid, to free up space and staff in adjacent hospitals to treat large numbers of virus cases.
The UK has been one of the worst affected countries in Europe with a death toll of over 148,000.
The government opened large “Nightingale” field hospitals in places like exhibition centers during the first wave of the virus. The facilities named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale were not widely used and staffing was a problem due to their large size.
This time, the plan is to make up to 4,000 “supercharged beds” available, in some cases using existing hospital facilities, such as gyms or educational centers.
Doctors warned of growing staff shortages due to people sick with the virus or self-isolating.
England is the exception among UK nations by not imposing additional virus restrictions during the festive period, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have imposed limits on the number of people who can socialize together and closed nightclubs.
Johnson has said that the high rate of reinforcement consumption in England plus evidence that Omicron is softer have allowed the country to avoid further restrictions.
He has urged people to get tested before attending New Years events and to be “sensible.”
The number of people who test positive or who are in self-isolation is affecting sectors such as transport.
The southern railway company announced Thursday that it will not run trains from London’s Victoria station, one of the UK’s busiest, until January 10 due to “isolation and coronavirus disease.”