UK Covid latest news LIVE: Pre-departure tests scrapped for travellers entering the UK as bookings soar

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Return testing for travelers entering the UK has been removed as of Friday morning as airlines see a surge in bookings.

The changes, which went into effect at 4 a.m., also mean that newcomers will no longer have to isolate themselves until they get a negative PCR test.

Some 200 armed forces personnel are being made available to hospitals in the capital, which has been the epicenter of the Omicron outbreak with a large increase in cases.

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More than 4,700 NHS employees were absent in London last week

A total of 39,142 NHS employees in hospital trusts in England were absent for Covid-19 reasons on January 2, up 59 percent from the previous week (24,632) and more than three times the number at the beginning of December ( 12,508), according to new figures from NHS England.

The total includes staff who were sick with coronavirus or had to self-isolate.

In London, absences increased by four percent on weekdays, from 4,580 to 4,765.

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‘People are suffering,’ says BMA president

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the board of the British Medical Association (BMA), told Sky News that it was important that “the government does not just wait to put up with this, because every day people are suffering.”

He said there are two or three things that need to be done, adding: “One is that we need to reduce the levels of Omicron infections in the community because healthcare personnel and key front-line personnel, only members of the general population If you have high Omicron levels over 200,000 in many days last week on a daily basis, NHS staff and other staff will isolate themselves and become ill, it’s as simple as that.

“Therefore, it is necessary to reduce infection rates. The second is that we must ensure that those of us who work on the front lines and who mix with infectious patients need to be properly protected.

“And one of the things that we have been asking for is higher grade masks that can filter the airborne spread of Covid-19 and Omicron compared to normal paper surgical masks.”

He said that some NHS staff were still unable to access the lateral flow tests necessary to allow them to return to work after seven days of isolation instead of 10 days.

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Army continues to discuss more NHS support in other parts of the country – Air Commodore

Air Commodore John Lyle told BBC Breakfast that the military continues to discuss increased support for the NHS in other parts of the country.

“We can’t really forecast too far in advance, but certainly throughout this current surge we know that it is particularly difficult in London at the moment, but we are aware that this is affecting the whole of the UK,” he said.

“So we are still in talks and there are a number of areas where we are looking at the possibility of getting more help.

“So in the coming weeks or months, I think we will learn a lot about how progress is made in London and potentially more military support could be required in other areas.”

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Encouraging signs London is emerging from Omicron wave, minister says

London will receive support from the military to deal with a high absence rate among health personnel, but there are “encouraging” signs that the city is emerging from the Omicron wave, according to a minister.

London Minister Paul Scully, when asked if Omicron was relaxing in the capital, told LBC: “I think it looks encouraging, the trend at the moment, but clearly we must be on guard because there is still pressure on the NHS in London.

“It’s not just about the case numbers, there is a clear disconnect between the case numbers and the hospitalizations, but also, due to increased testing and greater awareness of people, there are also greater absences and obviously, that it’s putting additional pressure on the NHS and other public services. “

Scully said the military personnel deployed to the capital would be a “mix of doctors, porters and these kinds of things” to help hospitals, but said he had no details on where they would help.

He added: “What we also have is a digital staff passport for the NHS, which allows staff to move between hospitals, so where the pressure is most acute, that’s where the NHS staff will be placed, but also military personnel “.

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Army ‘helps in different ways,’ says health chief

Matthew Taylor, executive director of the NHS Confederation, said staff would be “helping in different ways depending on whether or not they are clinically qualified, so obviously if people have medical skills then they can be used in clinical settings.” .

Others would be used to assist “in connection with potential transportation or installation of facilities … we are creating increased capacity at some of our hospitals to cope with the number of patients admitted.”

Mr Taylor said there were several thousand NHS employees absent mainly due to Covid, and that “having an additional two hundred people will help, but it is only a small part of what will continue to be a very difficult situation.”

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Minister: Armed forces ‘helping with undoubted pressure on the NHS’

The UK government sees no need “at this time” for further coronavirus restrictions, despite the military being called in to support some London hospitals via the Omicron wave.

Business Minister Paul Scully, when asked if additional measures were “off the table,” told Sky News: “Right now we are looking at the data, but we have seen what is happening in London, which was leading the way. on the case number curve, and we don’t see a need to do so at this point.

“We will clearly be reviewing our Plan B scenario before January 26 and then we will come to Parliament with the decision that has been made at that time.”

He added: “When you talk about armed forces around hospitals, they are not sitting in combat or anything like that.

“It is more people helping with the undoubted pressures on the NHS and that is why we want people to go out and get vaccinated and increased, because that remains our best weapon against the pressures on the NHS and against Covid, as we learn to live with Covid “.

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The army sends 200 troops to support the NHS in London

The Armed Forces have dispatched 200 staff members to NHS hospitals in London to fill staff shortages.

The Ministry of Defense will provide 40 defense doctors and 160 general service personnel over the next three weeks.

London hospitals have been hit hard by staff absences, with thousands sick or isolated as the Omicron variant emerged in the capital.

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Covid daily figures will be less relevant: expert

Daily coronavirus numbers will be less relevant as positive lateral flow tests no longer need PCR confirmation, said a senior public health adviser.

Professor Linda Bauld said that clear communication around lateral flow testing is key during the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, and said there will be challenges posed by a more voluntary system.

On Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon announced that asymptomatic people who test positive on a lateral flow device no longer need a confirmatory PCR test.

Instead, they must immediately isolate and report the result of their lateral flow test to allow Test and Protect to begin tracking contacts.

However, those with symptoms should book a CRP test.

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