Health chiefs want Britons to follow a string of new Covid measures to fight record infection rates in the UK and ease pressure on the NHS.
NHS Confederation accused No10 of ‘abandoning any interest in Covid whatsoever’, warning that hospitals are set to deal with a ‘brutal Easter as bad as any winter’.
The group, which acts as a representative for hospitals and ambulance trusts, called for ‘mitigating actions’ to stop the spread of the virus, such as not meeting people indoors and wearing masks in crowded spaces.
It comes just weeks after Covid restrictions, including the legal requirement to self-isolate, were scrapped under Boris Johnson’s ‘living with Covid’ plan. And England’s £2billion-a-month mass-testing scheme was scrapped at the start of April.
The easing of rules has coincided with infection rates spiralling to the highest levels seen throughout the pandemic, with one in 13 people estimated to be infected at the start of the month.
Health bosses say the situation — fuelled by rising Covid rates and staff sickness — is impacting its ability to tackle the record backlog of patients needing care.
Millions of patients have already been told to stay away from busy A&E units unless they are genuinely dying, while ambulance services have urged some to make their own way to hospital.
The number of virus-infected patients in hospital last week breached 20,000 — the highest since February 2021. Although, figures also show thousands aren’t primarily ill with the virus.