London, Dec 31 : A number of new “surge hubs” are to be set up in Britain as the country’s National Health Service (NHS) goes on a “war footing” in preparation for a wave of Omicron hospital admissions, health authorities have said.
Temporary structures capable of housing around 100 patients will be erected on the grounds of eight hospitals across the country, with work starting as early as this week, NHS England has said.
NHS trusts have also been asked to identify areas such as gyms and education centres that can be converted to accommodate patients and more sites could be added to create up to 4,000 “super surge” beds across the country, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Given the high level of Covid-19 infections and increasing hospital admissions, the NHS is now on a war footing,” said NHS National Medical Director, Stephen Powis.
“We do not yet know exactly how many of those who catch the virus will need hospital treatment, but given the number of infections we cannot wait to find out before we act and so work is beginning from today to ensure these facilities are in place.”
Britain reported a new record increase of 189,213 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 12,748,050, according to official figures.
The country also reported a further 332 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 148,421.
The latest data showed that more than 90 per cent of community Covid cases in England are now Omicron.
Meanwhile, issues with PCR and lateral flow availability in England persist. Currently, there are no walk-in or drive-through PCR coronavirus test appointments available across England. Home PCR tests are also now unavailable for the general public and essential workers, according to local reports.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that up to 90 per cent of people in intensive care with Covid-19 are not boosted. He stressed the importance of booster jabs again on Wednesday, insisting this is the only way to enjoy the new year “sensibly and cautiously.”
Around 90 per cent of people aged 12 years and above in Britain have had their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine and more than 82 per cent have received both doses, according to the latest figures.
More than 58 per cent have received booster jabs or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.