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Staff shortages caused by absent workers isolating could cost economy

Staff shortages as a result of Covid-19 self-isolation requirements could cost the economy £35billion in January and February, data analysis has shown.

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Staff shortages caused by absent workers isolating could cost economy

Experts at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have predicted there will be an 'economic cost' to the country when the absenteeism rate hits the government's assumptions of 25 per cent.

The predicted loss for those two months, which is equivalent to 8.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), comes as Boris Johnson faced renewed pressure to act to get Britain back to normal today. 
The latest analysis for The Sunday Times, which takes note of the fact that nearly 50 per cent of the population is working from home, was carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).       

Economist at the CEBR Pushpin Singh told The Sunday Times: 'Even with only a peak of 8 per cent, there will be an economic cost.

'Nonetheless, we would expect that most of this would be made up during the rest of the year.'

Today Boris Johnson faced renewed pressure to act to get Britain back to normal with demands that Covid rules and measures designed to slow the spread of the disease be stripped away.

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The former head of the UK's vaccine taskforce suggested that coronavirus should be treated more like flu from now on, with booster jabs reserved only for the most vulnerable and at risk, amid signs that the Omicron variant is less severe than previous incarnations.

Dr Clive Dix, chairman of the government agency from December 2020 until April, called for a return to a 'new normality' and a focus on disease management, saying: 'It is pointless keeping giving more and more vaccines to people who are not going to get very ill. 

'We should just let them get ill and deal with that.'

A second expert, Dr David Speigelhalter, warned that people 'are going to catch it and might catch it again' and would have to get used to it.
Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England's regional director for London, said the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus is thought to have peaked in London over the new year period

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi suggested it would be 'helpful' if the UK followed the US example and only forced people to self-isolate after a positive test result
At the same time, figures within Mr Johnson's own Cabinet broke ranks to suggest that Covid isolation should be slashed from seven days to five to ease a manpower crisis, something Mr Johnson has been resisting.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi suggested it would be 'helpful' if the UK followed the US example and only forced people to self-isolate after a positive test result, rather than after coming down with symptoms.

He also said he hoped that the UK would become one of the first countries 'to demonstrate to the world how you transition from pandemic to endemic'. 

It came as Professor Kevin Fenton, Public Health England's regional director for London, said the spread of Omicron in the capital appeared to have peaked over the new year, with case rates were now falling across the city. 

Yesterday UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) figures showed there were 146,390 new positive tests over the last 24 hours, down 18.5 per cent on the previous week's figure of 179,637.

It marked the biggest week-on-week fall since the start of November, well before the mutant strain sent cases soaring across the country. 

Covid hospitalisations in Omicron hotspot London fell 31 per cent to 310 on January 6, the latest date regional data is available for. 

Nadhim Zahawi evades question about whether LFTs will remain free
 

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