The NHS Confederation is calling on all MPs to vote in favour of the Plan B interventions today given the growing concerns about the omicron variant.
Plan B is part of the Government’s Covid-19 winter strategy and includes the reintroduction of compulsory face masks in most public indoor venues other than hospitality, the NHS Covid Pass to be mandatory in specific settings, and people being asked to work from home if they can.
The home working advice came into effect today and Parliament is expected to vote tomorrow on the introduction of Covid status certification, mandatory mask wearing in certain settings, and on whether daily negative tests should replace self-isolation requirements when people have been exposed to a positive diagnosis of coronavirus.
Yesterday, the Government announced that the UK alert level had been raised to four due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant and that all eligible adults over the age of 18 will be offered a booster shot by the end of the year.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:
“Given the rapidly rising infection levels from omicron and how much pressure the NHS is under already, we are urging MPs to vote in favour of the Government’s Plan B interventions.
“We may find that these measures are not enough but with independent modelling suggesting that omicron could cause up to 75,000 deaths in England and over 490,000 hospitalisations by the end of April, it would be irresponsible not to give them a go.
“If omicron is allowed to spread out of control, then the worry is that far stricter interventions will be needed in the new year and no one wants tougher measures when it is clear they can have a devastating impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
“The NHS is working at lightning speed to ramp up the booster programme and our members expect Parliament to use its position of influence to send a strong message in the national interest.”
The NHS Confederation is also calling on the public to do what they can to reduce the spread of infection. Last week, it relaunched its #NotTooMuchToMask campaign alongside a range of national bodies, which supports the public to make sensible choices that can keep themselves and others safe from infection this winter by:
- Wearing a face mask, if not exempt
- Keeping indoor spaces well ventilated and meeting outdoors if you can
- Making sure you get the coronavirus vaccine, including boosters and third doses when advised
- Cleaning your hands regularly including before and after social contact with those outside your household
- Testing regularly, supporting contract tracing measures and self-isolating when required