UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the pressure on hospitals “is going to be considerable in the course of the next couple of weeks, and maybe more,” as Omicron cases surge.
The majority of people in the intensive care unit have not been vaccinated and “about 90%” have not received a booster dose, he told reporters on Monday, urging citizens to “get boosted”.
Despite all this, Johnson has resisted following the other UK nations in imposing restrictions on large gatherings to curb the spread.
“I think the way forward for the country as a whole is to continue with the path that we're on,” he said.
“We'll keep everything under review, of course we keep all measures under review. But the mixture of things that we're doing at the moment is, I think, the right one.”
Johnson asked people to take England's current measures “seriously,” which include working from home where possible, wearing a mask on public transport and taking a lateral flow test before meeting up with others.
From Monday, students in secondary schools and above are advised to wear masks.
Johnson also cast doubt over reducing the self-isolation period from seven days to five, in line with new US guidelines.
“We’ll continue to look at the infectivity periods, but the key thing is, we don’t want to be releasing people back into the workplace when they’re still infectious,” he said.
“The risk is you increase the numbers of people going back into the workplace who are infectious by a factor of three, so you might perversely have a negative effect on the workforce. That’s the argument we’re looking at,” he said.