Britain faces hospital crisis as daily COVID cases top 200,000

British hospitals have switched to a “war footing” due to staff shortages caused by a wave of Omicron infections, the government says, as the country’s daily COVID caseload breaches 200,000 for the first time.

The 24-hour tally, after chalking up multiple records in the run-up to New Year, hit 218,724 and another 48 deaths were reported in the latest government data.

Hospital admissions have not hit anything like the peaks of previous waves of the pandemic, and the number of people requiring ventilation has remained flat so far.

But the state-run National Health Service is struggling with staff forced to stay at home after testing positive, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised action to plug staffing gaps in the worst-hit areas.

“Anyone who thinks our battle with COVID is over, I’m afraid, is profoundly wrong. This is a moment for the utmost caution,” Johnson said.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual press conference to update the nation on the status of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the Downing Street briefing room in central London, on January 4, 2022. (Jack Hill/Pool/AFP)

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