Despite the number of new coronavirus infections reaching an all-time, the British leader told the nation on Tuesday that there is “no need to shut down our country again.”

The 218,000 new cases represent a 58 percent increase on seven days ago and hospital admissions rose 42 percent over the same period. To cope, the National Health Service will go on a war footing, the PM said. “We can find a way to live with this virus.”

A number of leading medical advisers have backed the prime minister’s stance.

However, unchanged self-isolation rules for positive cases and their contacts are having a serious impact on the workforce, with worryingly high rates of absence in hospitals and the transport sector.

Johnson said that 100,000 key workers such as nuclear technicians and air traffic controllers will have daily tests to catch outbreaks early.

Meanwhile, in France the number of new cases in 24 hours was 271,686, a new record.

The reaction of the government appears to be very similar to that of the UK, with no new lockdown envisaged. Instead, a number of rules have been tightened in recent days, including the mandating of masks outdoors in Paris and for all children over the age of six. However, 12-15 year-olds will not need to show a vaccine pass to enter public spaces, as had originally been proposed.

There will be a crowd limit of 5,000 for outdoor sports fixtures, and of 2,000 in closed spaces, for three weeks from last Monday.

In Denmark the country’s leading health official said that life could start to get back to normal within two months due to the Omicron variant, which appears to be less dangerous than previous variants despite its higher transmissibility.

The UK recorded 218,724 new cases and 48 new deaths on Tuesday, January 4, while in France the figures were 271,686 new cases and 351 new deaths (SOURCES: NHS, Public Health France).