Daily Covid testing for workers in 'critical' industries, PM announces

The prime minister has been told that even with infections in England at more than two million, they are likely to go higher still, ITV Political Editor Robert Peston explains

The prime minister has attempted to lessen the threat posed by Omicron to essential services by requiring around 100,000 workers in specified industries to take daily Covid-19 tests.

In order to keep the lights on, maintain the supply of food and keep aeroplanes flying, these workers will have to test five days a week - so that infections are caught as early as possible, to minimise spread of the virus to colleagues. A government source said the requirement to test daily would apply to those in civil, nuclear and other power generation, air traffic control, meat processing and food supply chains.

Boris Johnson conceded that the coming few weeks will see significant disruption to hospitals, schools and the economy from the unprecedented surge of Covid-19 caused by the Omicron strain. One official said: “The data suggest infections are still growing. But it’s very hard to say anything with certainty.

"This is partly due to the holidays, and partly due to the mess that's our testing system.

"We have reached capacity in many areas, so there's no telling how many cases we're missing every day."

Mr Johnson told the press conference he "will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow we continue with Plan B because the public have responded and changed their behaviour buying valuable time to get boosters in arms".

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