Last night, health service leaders decided to end self-isolation for staff living with Covid-positive patients. This was in response to fears that Omicron’s rapid growth would cause hospitals to close and make it impossible for them not be able perform routine procedures. 

Nurses and doctors were ordered to refrain from visiting wards for at least ten days when a loved one tested positive for the virus.

This was in contrast to August’s rules for the remainder of the country. Double-jabbed individuals did not need to self-quarantine in the event that someone within their family contracted the virus. 

Yesterday’s updated guidance to NHS leaders saw the household rule being quietly scrapped. If they receive a negative PCR result, workers should immediately return to work. Before they can return to work, workers must take daily lateral flow tests.

It comes amid fears the NHS will be crippled by the incoming Omicron wave, with Government advisers warning of upwards of 4,000 daily hospitalisations — mirroring levels seen virus earlier this year when the health service was ravaged by Britain’s second wave. 

Experts at No10 fear that this ultra-infectious variant could trigger as many as one million cases per day by December 31, raising serious concerns about the possibility of the country being paralysed due to the millions of Britons forced into isolation. 

Around 13,000 NHS workers — or slightly more than one per cent of the workforce — were off ill or isolating because of Covid on any day on December 2, the latest available, with the rate barely changing on the previous seven-days.

Omicron-hotspot London’s absences have increased by 40% over that same time frame, suggesting worsening conditions for the country. However, the strain continues to spread rapidly throughout the nation.

As a result of staff being sick, hospitals in London have had to cancel their operations. Staff at Greenwich NHS Trust and Lewisham were told by Lewisham that they would have no choice but to stop providing non-urgent care and redeploy personnel to provide urgent service.

Researchers last night warned the variant could cause an extra 100,000 cancelled operations this winter. Some elective procedures such as knee and hip replacements are already in decline. This is because some of these surgeries were delayed to make way for more NHS staff.

Pictured above is the old guidance published in August. It says that people who live in the same household as someone who tests positive for the virus must self-isolate for ten days

The old August guidance is shown above. This guidance states that anyone who is positive for the virus should not live with someone else for at least ten days.

But an updated version released last night made no mention of this. It said all fully vaccinated staff who are close contacts of a Covid case should return to work once they have received a negative PCR test

The updated version that was released last night did not mention this. The updated version stated that all staff with full vaccinations who were close to a Covid case must return to work after receiving a negative PCR.

This map illustrates the percentage of Covid cases that are triggered by Omicron in England’s different regions. This variant appears to dominate London, where 60% of all cases may be caused by it. 

This shows the cumulative number of Omicron cases confirmed in the UK, broken down by nations

The chart below shows how many Omicron cases have been confirmed in the UK. It is broken down into countries.

London hospitalisations have increased by 50% week-on-week. Admissions jumped from 133 to 191 per day in December 14th, the most recent date. 

These fears are growing as the number of people infected with the virus increases and they fall seriously ill.

The city’s Covid cases are now inches off the peak last year, with 19,643 people testing positive for the virus on December 14 compared to the record 19,868 set last winter. The city also hosts 25 of the most rapidly growing epidemics in the nation. 

Dr. Whitty advises hospitals to be ready for many absences

Professor Chris Whitty has warned hospitals to brace for  ‘very large numbers’ of staff absences as the Omicron Covid variant takes hold.

England’s chief physician said trusts should be ready for a sharp increase in absences during the next few days.

He said this at the Downing Street Press Conference. 

The doctor added that Covid will be a sharp peak and that many people (including doctors and nurses) are likely to become Covid.

“There will be significant problems” [of]People actually provide staff to men and can generally look after any aspect of the social and health care systems.

According to official figures, staff absenteeisms at epicentre London have increased by 40% in one week.

More than 1000 employees have lost their jobs due to the virus. It is not known how many people have tested positive for it and how many have been instructed to isolate since they are close friends.

The national Covid absences from hospitals rose 9 per cent last week. 12,240 people were not ill. 

Last night, hospitals were instructed to prepare contingency plans in order to deal with any absences for the next three-months amid increasing fears about an Omicron wave which could cripple the NHS. 

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the hospital, has instructed leaders to teach staff how to redeploy to top-ranking roles and to ‘accelerate’ recruitment plans according to The Guardian.

Some London hospitals are struggling with the rising tide of missing patients ahead of a wave of Covid admissions.   

One of many that have started to cancel operations is the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.

In a video message, Ben Travis, the chief executive of it said to staff yesterday that many people were sick and needed to be redeployed in order to provide urgent support.

He stated that nurses and doctors not employed in the frontline would be asked “return to floor” and corporate employees would be requested to take on ‘patient-facing jobs that do not require clinical qualifications’. 

Professor Chris Whitty earlier this week warned that Covid will soon be infecting large numbers of people due to the sharp peak in cases. 

At a Downing Street Press Conference, he stated that the speed of onset would lead to many people becoming ill at once and it was important to remain realistic. 

The doctor added that Covid will be affecting many people at once, which includes nurses, doctors and others in healthcare.

“There will be significant problems” [of]People actually provide staff to men and can generally look after any aspect of the social and health care systems.

The NHS state generally is viewed as a signpost for how restrictive restrictions should be applied. If the situation becomes serious, ministers can impose additional restrictions.

However, Professor Whitty did not call for any additional measures. Instead, he called on the public to prioritize their social interaction in the lead up to Christmas. 

The University of Birmingham has also suggested that 100,000 English operations could be cancelled in the coming three months, if Covid hospitalisations are at par with last winter. 

For the purpose of developing a model that would allow for elective surgery activities based on Covid patient numbers, the research team utilized NHS England data September 2020 through July 2021.

They estimate that elective surgeries will drop by 21.9 percentage points if there are at least 5,000 infected patients.

Their model predicts a 27% reduction in elective surgery if 10,000 Covid patients are in the hospital.

At the top of their scale is 30,000 patients in hospital with Covid — which is still less than the January peak of nearly 40,000 — when their model estimates a 46.3 per cent reduction in non-urgent surgeries.

According to the researchers, Omicron could lead to similar hospitalizations as the initial wave of Covid patients. This would reduce the number of elective surgeries in England by 33.9 percent.  

On September 28th, hospitals were instructed to stop social distancing from patients and follow strict cleaning guidelines. This was five months after the English two-metre rule fell apart on freedom day.

Experts denounced the idea for hospitals and said it was a risky move that could result in an increased transmission of the virus from ward to ward.

Hospitals are asking staff to put in extra work to clear the huge backlog that has accumulated since whole wards were given over to fight the virus.  

The first and second wave of the virus were also spread through hospitals. Around 10% of Covid admissions resulted from this.

Covid cases in London are now inches away from the record set last winter amid fears some trusts are already creaking at the seams with patient admissions

London’s Covid cases are only inches from breaking the previous winter record, amid concerns that some trusts may be creaking at their seams when it comes to patient admissions

Hospitalisations in London are also starting to tick up. Professor Chris Whitty has warned that a further rise is already 'baked in' to these numbers

London’s hospitalisations are starting to increase. Professor Chris Whitty warns that these numbers are already on the rise.

The above graph shows Covid deaths in London. They are still flat but this is a lagging indicator, because of the time taken for someone who has caught the virus to become seriously ill and die from the disease

This graph displays Covid deaths at London. Although they are flat, this indicator is not accurate due to the length of time required for someone with the virus and become gravely ill before dying.

The UK Health Security Agency — which publishes guidance for the NHS on controlling the virus — published the update last night, in a move set to bolster the workforce.

A previous version released in August read: ‘If… they are living directly (same household) with a positive Covid case, they will be asked not to come to work.’

However, last night’s edition did not include the obligation for individuals living with positive Covid cases.