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UK can ‘ride out’ Omicron wave without shutting down, Boris Johnson says

London: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that Britain could endure the Omicron wave of the coronavirus without re-entering lockdown, but he added that the coming weeks would be challenging.

“We have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country,” Johnson said at a news conference.

“But the weeks ahead are going to be challenging, both here in the UK and across the world.”

Johnson said more than 60% of people in intensive care with COVID-19 have not had any vaccine.

There are almost 9 million people who have not had a booster, he said.

Britain’s chief medical adviser Chris Whitty said that despite the high number of cases, the mortality rate does not appear to have risen.

With COVID-19 cases soaring to about 200,000 a day as the Omicron variant spreads, hospitals, restaurants, transport operators and retailers in the UK are facing acute levels of staff absenteeism, the Washington Post reported.

England’s National Health Service is coming under particular pressure, with the scale of absences “becoming almost impossible” to handle.

Southern Trains has cancelled services into London Victoria, and the Gatwick Express has been suspended because of staff sickness. At Iceland Foods, Covid-related absences have risen by almost 700 week-on-week to more than 1,700 people, according to Managing Director Richard Walker.

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