The British government is relaxing immigration rules for care worker jobs as the UK welfare sector increasingly struggles to attract and retain staff.
The Health and Social Welfare Ministry said care workers will be added to the list of occupations in short supply.
The decision follows a recommendation from the Immigration Advisory Committee to make jobs eligible for a health care visa and put them on the list, which is designed to help immigrants obtain work visas to fill jobs where there is a shortage.
Al-Mutawa and Al-Qadi said in mid-December that this required “immediately” alleviating the “extreme and growing difficulties” facing the sector in recruitment and retention.
The recommendation came from the preliminary findings of an independent review by the MAC on the impact of ending freedom of movement after Brexit on the social care sector and its workers.
British Health Minister Sajid Javid said the move would help “ensure short-term sustainability” and also urged health workers to get vaccinated.
“I also urge all care staff to ask for support now to protect themselves and those in their care,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security said that care workers and caregivers abroad will be able to move in with dependents, including partners and children, and the visa provides a path to settlement in the UK.
The announcement comes after activists last year accused the British government of excluding care workers from the new immigration system and ignoring the role they have played during the coronavirus pandemic.
Caregivers face high vacancy and turnover rates, and the pressure on staffing is compounded by the recent proliferation of Omicron.
This week, the chief executive of MHA, the UK’s largest charity care provider, asked local councils to determine how they could support care if the shortage worsened.
HSE said that nearly one in two people tested for Covid-19 in the community is now testing positive, and the current demand for testing is unprecedented.
This could lead to longer wait times for PCR tests, said HSE chief of testing, screening and immunization, Damien McCallion.
Today, the Department of Health was notified of 6,735 additional cases of Covid-19 in Ireland. The positivity rate is 49.7%, which means that almost half of the swabs taken were positive.
And the number of people infected with the virus in hospitals reached 461, an increase of 35 from yesterday.
Of those patients, 91 are being treated in the intensive care unit, unchanged from yesterday.
The department estimates that approximately 87% of reported cases are now due to the Omicron variant.
HSE said the 41 Covid-19 testing centers fully reopened after some of them closed and others worked reduced hours for the past two days.
Vaccination centers have also fully reopened after a two-day closure at Christmas. So far, nearly two million people have received a booster shot.
McCalleon said that testing capacity had tripled in recent months, but that it was “nearly impossible” to keep up with the level of demand that he claimed was driven by the high level of disease in the community.
“When the disease is at the level it is at right now, it is almost impossible to try to maintain that demand. So, we are going to continue to provide service, we are going to continue to provide access and keep opening opportunities for people. But what is it? really essential for people is to follow public health advice regarding restricting their movements and making sure they haven’t had symptoms for 48 hours before changing that. ”
He said the reduced availability of PCR at Christmas and on St. Stephen’s Day will affect demand in the coming days, adding that PCR tests are booked faster than before.
He said the staff continued to work on the tests over the Christmas period and pleaded with people to be patient with them “during this difficult period.”
He added that it would be premature to assess the impact of the latest record number of cases in the hospital system.
He said that while there have been some increases in recent days, the real impact will become apparent in the coming weeks due to the difference between cases and hospitalizations.
Now there is a way for people to book an appointment online in advance at their convenience and I hope this will encourage more people to request reinforcements.
CMO urges people to avoid crowded places
Meanwhile, despite the government’s advice that up to four families can gather inside during the Christmas period, the medical director has asked people not to mix or gather inside with people from other families.
Dr. Tony Holohan also asked people to avoid crowded places, including retail settings.
In response to inquiries about the discrepancy of advice between the CMO and the government on meeting other households at home, a government spokesperson said: “Omicron is more transferable than Delta. Reducing or keeping social contacts as low as possible reduces the risk, this is evident in the government’s “RSVP” media campaign.
“The government is closely monitoring developments and in constant contact with public health, health, safety and environmental officials.
“Those who have not yet received the booster shot should be particularly vigilant, and the government again urges everyone to take advantage of the booster shot as soon as it is available.”
Retail Ireland said companies will reinforce messages about facial covering and social distancing, which could lead to queues outside some retailers.
Arnold Dillon of Retail Ireland said that public health is a “top priority”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, he said that the main focus of retailers will be to ensure a safe shopping environment for employees and customers.
“Companies will reinforce messages about face covering, hand hygiene and social distancing,” he said.
He added: “It can also mean that customers may have to queue outside stores so that social distancing can be managed inside.
“But we’ve been at this for almost two years and compliance is not a big challenge. The vast majority of customers are very familiar with and supportive of these measures.”
US health authorities have reduced the recommended isolation time for people with Covid-19 who show no symptoms, as President Joe Biden warned Americans to panic amid a wave of threatening cases with a broader social disturbance.
Speaking of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, Biden said some US hospitals may be “overrun,” but the country is well prepared for the latest surge.
The coronavirus continued to put holes in busy flight schedules for the Christmas holidays, with many airlines saying that sudden increases in Omicron variant cases were causing staff shortages.
Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reduce the isolation of asymptomatic cases from 10 to five days, pave the way for people to return to work earlier, reducing the possibility of a massive labor shortages in key parts of the economy.
The recommendations, which are not binding but are closely followed by US business and policy makers, further suggest a five-day isolation period “followed by five days of wearing a mask when other people are present.”
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The agency said the new guidelines were “driven by science,” showing that most Covid-19 transmission occurs early in the disease course, usually a day or two before symptoms appear and within two or three days. after.
In a virtual meeting hosted by the White House with various state governors and top health advisers, Biden emphasized that the Omicron variant would not have the same impact as the initial Covid-19 outbreak in 2020 or the delta surge this year.
“Omicron is a concern, but it shouldn’t be a source of panic,” he said.
President Joe Biden
In addition to expanding free testing sites, the administration will soon ship 500 million home test kits to Americans, Biden said.
“If we had known, we would have gone a lot stronger and faster,” Biden said. “We have to do more.”
The United States has the highest number of victims from a national epidemic in the world, with more than 816,000 deaths from the Covid virus and 52 million cases.
Israel Orders New Covid-19 Pill From Pfizer
On Saturday, an Israeli official said Israel had ordered 100,000 units of Covid-19 antiviral pills from Pfizer Inc for people 12 and older at risk of serious illness, a television report confirming.
Channel 12 TV said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved the deal in a telephone conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Burla. There was no immediate confirmation from the company.
The first oral and home treatment for Covid-19, Paxlovid was nearly 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in patients at risk of severe disease, according to data from a Pfizer clinical trial.
Recent laboratory data indicate that the drug remains effective against the omicron variant.
Chinese city locks up 13 million people
Domestic cases of coronavirus in China increased for a fourth day, with the northwestern city of Xian reporting the most infections, putting 13 million people under lockdown.
Xian reported 175 asymptomatic cases on Monday, up from 150 the day before.
No omicron infections have been reported of the more than 800 confirmed cases in Xian since December 9.
The number of cases in Xian is small compared to many groups in other countries, but Chinese officials have imposed strict restrictions on travel within the city and on departure, in line with national guidelines to immediately contain any Covid outbreak. -19.
A medical worker in Beijing arrives wearing protective gloves while conducting a test for a client at a private outpatient clinic.
Some Xi’an residents were curious to know when they would be able to stock up on basic necessities next time, such as vegetables, as officials banned people from shopping during a new round of massive testing that began on Monday.
Officials said that people in lower-risk areas could resume shopping once the test results came back negative, but did not say exactly when the suspension would be lifted. Before this restriction, each family was allowed to send only one person to buy basic necessities every other day.
Since last week, Xian residents have not been allowed to leave the city without permission from their employer or community authorities.
Officials also banned non-essential vehicles.
France offers a monthly bonus to intensive care nurses
French Prime Minister Jean Castix said France will pay intensive care nurses 100 euros a month starting in January as it seeks to improve the working conditions of staff exhausted by the war on COVID-19.
“It’s about improving the attractiveness, training, qualification and working conditions of intensive care units and recognizing the skills of those who work there,” said Castex during a visit to the intensive care unit in Creteil, near Paris. .
The bonus comes ahead of a broader set of measures that Health Minister Olivier Veran will unveil next week to reduce staff shortages on the front lines of the fight against Covid-19.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant saw a record increase in cases in France, adding to the pressure on intensive care units in public hospitals.
South African study indicates that Omicron increases immunity against Delta
Research by South African scientists indicates that omicron infection enhances immunity against the delta variant of the coronavirus.
The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, found that people infected with Omicron, especially those who were vaccinated, developed enhanced immunity to the delta variant.
The analysis included 33 vaccinated and unvaccinated people infected with the Omicron variant in South Africa.
While the authors found that Omicron neutralization increased 14-fold over the 14 days after enrollment, they also found that there was a 4.4-fold increase in delta virus neutralization.