- England’s chief scientific officer says Britain must go ‘tough and quick’ with restrictions if cases rise
- He warned Boris Johnson not to become complacent in the face of rising infections, hospitalizations and deaths
- But Downing Street is believed to have gained confidence in recent days from the decline in national infections
Boris Johnson has made it clear that he has yet to bring his winter plans, saying the NHS is not under ‘unstable’ pressure
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged No 10 to act ‘decisively and quickly’ today after Sir Patrick Vallance called on Boris Johnson to reimpose Covid restrictions in Britain at the first sign of infection.
Mr Hunt, who is now chairman of the health and social care select committee, said the current trend of declining cases ends if the government should not fear a ‘U-turning’ once again.
Speaking about Plan B at the Royal Society of Medicine conference, he suggested Mr Johnson should act earlier than he wanted.
He said: ‘I think we need to be prepared to move forward in different ways to deal with the virus. I have always said in a pandemic that you should welcome a government that changes its mind, not punishes it for U-turning.
‘It is always better to act decisively and earlier than you want to.’
But he stopped short of calling for immediate enforcement of the restrictions, suggesting that speeding up booster and children’s vaccine programs would be the best way to get to the ‘heart’ of Britain’s current affairs.
His remarks came after England’s chief scientific adviser said the country remains in a ‘very uncertain phase’ of the pandemic, despite a decline in infections in the country in recent days.
Sir Patrick suggested the government’s Winter Plan B – which includes face masks, work from home and vaccine passports – should not be taken off the table just yet.
He gave the same warning to the prime minister at a Downing Street press conference last month, saying that failing to act would only result in stricter and longer sanctions in the winter.
The country’s symptom-tracking study warned today that Britain is now ‘worryingly close’ to 100,000 cases a day and government testing is underestimating the crisis.
It is estimated that there were 92,953 new infections in a single day last week, up 14 per cent in the previous seven days. Its results cover a period when cases in children dropped slightly, but not in the most recent four days when infections fell across the country.
But No10 is believed to have taken credence from the fact that there has been a decline in Covid infections for four consecutive days and SAGE’s forecasts suggest that the pandemic will naturally subside next month due to increased immunity among children and booster vaccines. Will happen.
Ministers have insisted they will only move into Plan B if the NHS comes under ‘sustainable’ pressure, with a senior source claiming yesterday that there was a ‘less than 20 per cent’ chance they would need to roll back restrictions .
Sir Patrick Vallance (pictured right on BBC Breakfast today) said the prime minister must be prepared to go ‘hard and fast’ if Covid cases resume
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: These charts show the effect of returning to normal levels of social mixing at three months (bottom) and alert for one year – and the impact of transition (left), admission (middle) Is. and death (right). Models show cases decreasing by November in both conditions due to natural immunity, but increasing in spring (below) when vaccine safety is expected to decrease.
Warning against complacency, Sir Patrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘You need to be fully prepared (for Plan B) and as soon as you start thinking, “Am I going to do this? Or not? It looks close”.
‘That’s when you need to move on from your natural reluctance to do it and do it. This is clearly something that the government will have to consider carefully but if it happens then we need to be prepared to move fast.
‘I think we are in very uncertain times. If you read the minutes of SAGE published last week, there’s a lot of uncertainty as to which direction it goes.
‘It really depends on the degree of immunity and the amount protected by the vaccines and that’s why vaccines are so important and it depends on the overall behavioral change.’
UK ‘worryingly close’ to 100,000 cases a day, warns study
Britain is ‘worryingly close’ to 100,000 new Covid infections per day, the country’s largest symptom-tracking study warned today despite government figures showing the outbreak is retreating.