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New "surge hubs" to be set up in UK amid Omicron wave


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.

 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 said Thursday.

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 centers 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.

"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.

A double decker bus passes large digital signs directing the public to a mass vaccination center at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, Dec. 19, 2021.  (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua)

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"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.

Photo taken on Dec. 19, 2021 shows an ambulance at the emergency department of St Thomas

The latest data showed that more than 90 percent 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 percent of people in intensive care with COVID 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 percent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 82 percent have received both doses, according to the latest figures. More than 58 percent have received booster jabs, or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Published : December 31, 2021

By : Xinhua