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UK authorities relax COVID inspection requirements amid surge

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London-Health authorities relaxed COVID-19 testing requirements across the UK on Wednesday. This could alleviate the shortage of personnel that would hurt public services, from hospitals and ambulances to trains and garbage collection, in the face of a surge in Omicron-fueled infections.

This change happened the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that Britain had a “chance” to “survive” the surge in infections with Omicron variants without imposing strict blockades. After meeting with ministers on Wednesday, he answered questions in parliament and issued a statement on COVID-19.

The UK Health and Safety Agency has stated that after January 11th, people in the UK who test positive using rapid immunochromatography will no longer need to have a PCR test if they are asymptomatic. rice field.

A temporary move, also used by the government earlier last year, records tests for positive lateral flow, but reduces the amount of time people without COVID-19 symptoms need to self-isolate. You no longer have to wait for the results of the PCR test and then start isolation for another 7 days.

Epidemiologist John Edmunds, a professor at the London School of Economics and Tropical Medicine, said the move made sense.

“If the prevalence is high and unbelievably high at this time, most people who test positive for immunochromatography will be true positive. There is really no need to confirm this by PCR. This takes time. It’s not just a waste, it’s a step that costs a lot and runs out of laboratory resources that can be used better elsewhere, “says Edmonds.

But he warned that this change would mean that authorities would reduce data on the spread of various mutations as PCR swabs are used for genotyping and sequencing to identify different mutations. He also stated that this change meant that daily updates of confirmed cases (also from PCR tests) “may require more careful interpretation.”

New daily infections identified throughout the UK jumped to a record 218,274 on Tuesday, 15% higher than the previous high of 31 December.

Keir Starmer, the leader of the British opposition Labor Party, talks about the government’s COVID-19 policy, which tested positive for the coronavirus and missed the opportunity to grill Johnson in Congress on Wednesday.

A series of local organizations of the National Health Service recently declared a “serious incident” in the face of staff shortages. Hospitals in the Greater Manchester area said they would suspend non-urgent surgery amid the growing impact of COVID-19 and the absence of workers.

Gillian Keegan, Deputy Secretary of Health for the UK, acknowledged the tension in an interview with the BBC.

“Currently, they are under extreme pressure on the Omicron variant, with an increase in the number of positive cases and hospitalizations, and there is always extreme pressure at this point,” Keegan said.

Train operations have also been reduced and there is a shortage of staff to collect, resulting in a pile of garbage on some streets.

Matthew Taylor, CEO of the NHS Confederation, told the BBC that he would support the new testing regime if scientists determined it was safe.

“For example, the situation is hopeless because hospitals that have declared a serious incident are basically on holidays, on breaks, or contacting recently retired staff and asking them to return to the ward,” Taylor said. Mr. says. It’s a good idea to get the staff back to the hospital. “

Ambulance services in northeast England are not life-threatening, asking relatives to take them to the hospital on New Year’s weekend due to increased waiting times for ambulances due to staff shortages and extra demand. I started to advise the patient.

“It’s still too long to get the ambulance to the patient. Unfortunately, this leaves the patient at risk, which is unacceptable,” he said.

But he emphasized, “I will never ask anyone to drive to the hospital because of a life-threatening illness.”

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Mike Coder reported from The Hague, the Netherlands.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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