Thursday, July 7, 2022

Britain struggles with decision to ease COVID restrictions

When to unlock? Britain’s Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure from Conservative lawmakers and their allies in the media to stick to a previously set out timetable, which will ease virtually all pandemic restrictions on 21 June in England.

But a sudden increase in coronavirus infections has provoked fierce opposition from the government’s scientific advisers, delaying the restrictions in order to assess the latest data and to ensure that variants, including the now dominant Delta variant, are detected first. in India it is not resistant to vaccines.

FILE – Pedestrians walk past a sign warning members of the public about a “Coronavirus variant of concern”, in Hounslow, West London, UK, on ​​1 June 2021.

Ministers have been alluding for days to the delay in what was earmarked as the final unlocking phase, and government officials say they are in a race between vaccinating people and the Delta variant.

Business people also express frustration over any delay. Those angry at the discussion of delay include Andrew Lloyd-Webber, theater impresario and composer of musicals, “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Cats.” He threatened the government on Wednesday and promised to risk the arrest by reopening his theaters in London on June 21. If the last phase of unlocking is postponed: ‘We will say,’ come to the theater and arrest us, ” he told locals. media.

Government advisory panels say the Delta variant is at least 40% more contagious than the previous tribe dominating Britain, and the increase in cases is largely seen among the non-vaccinated under-30s. Some government advisers fear Britain’s national health service will not be able to cope again if the virus is allowed, and predict that cases requiring hospitalizations could reach their previous peak in January.

More than 12,000 cases of Delta variants have been identified, and 126 have led to hospital admissions. Eighty-three of those admitted to the hospital were not vaccinated, 28 received one vaccine dose and only three received both stab wounds. Britain recorded more than 6,000 new daily cases of coronavirus by midweek, up 68% in the past seven days.

Nonetheless, cabinet ministers on Wednesday received a pessimistic briefing from key advisers, Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, and Patrick Vallance, chief scientific adviser, with the pair telling politicians that the latest data, according to Downing Street, is ‘pretty grim’. officials informing local media.

Government sources say they expect Johnson to announce a delay of “between two weeks and a month” for the reopening of phase four on Monday, but say they are optimistic the political outage will not be too great because many restrictions have been lifted. last month with non-essential stores and malls that can be allowed to open.

The government planned to end social distance on June 21 and abandon a one-plus-plus line between restaurants and pubs. The rule that a maximum of six people gather in houses will also be lifted and nightclubs and discos will be allowed. A limit of 30 people at weddings will be lifted, and the rules for wearing face masks in public will be lifted. And the government will abandon its guidance on people working from home if their jobs allow it.

But traveling overseas for holidays is now strongly discouraged after much confusion by the government and mixed messages.

FILE – People wait in lines at Faro Airport amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Faro, Portugal, June 6, 2021.

Earlier this week, more than 10,000 British holidaymakers fled Portugal, one of only a handful of countries that Britons are allowed to visit without isolating themselves for ten days on their return. The British government had placed Portugal on a ‘safe list’ of countries just two weeks earlier, but suddenly removed it from the list this week.

Former Conservative minister Steve Baker on Tuesday called on Johnson to continue with the ‘freedom day’ he set out to ‘make life worth living’. He called it the ‘last chance’ to save the British hospitality and tourism industry and said the time had come to enable people to ‘reconnect with family and friends and regain our mental health’.

Half of all adults in Britain both had the vaccine doses. And official government figures for England show that about four out of five older than 50 and a third of those in their 40s both had jabs.

FILE – People line up outside a vaccination center for those over the age of 18 at the Belmont Health Center in Harrow, London, UK, on ​​6 June 2021.

Those who oppose any delay point to the sharp drop in deaths and hospital admissions, claiming that they have proven that vaccines have broken the link between infection and serious illness. They say the government’s caution is based on accepting an error – namely that the country or any country can be COVID-free.

“Scientists seem to be quietly advocating a COVIVD approach, in which case numbers in themselves are seen as applicable, even if it does not lead to an increase in hospitalizations or deaths,” the Daily Telegraph newspaper, who told Johnson earlier if she had employed Brussels. correspondent. “They argue that the borders should be closed until the global case numbers are brought down, for fear of new variants. It is this kind of logic in New Zealand that shuts the country off from the world indefinitely. ”

The newspaper complained that there was an apparent failure to take into account the cost of the closure measures when deciding the policy ‘and that politicians always take into account the worst forecasts.

“There will be freedom again soon,” British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers this week. “We have to work safely and not look back,” he added.

Meanwhile, the WHO’s special pandemic envoy, David Nabarro, warned that the world would have to learn to live with the coronavirus and that people would have to adapt their lifestyles, whether they were vaccinated or not. “I’m really trying to repeat, it can’t not just be about restrictions,” he said. “The future for humanity is that we adapt our lifestyles, which is why we make it difficult to spread this virus.”

Nabarro told Britain’s Sky News: “We know this [the virus] is constantly changing, which means that while vaccination is a wonderful asset, it is not going to be enough. We will have to continue to act as if the virus is a constant threat. ‘

The White House said on Wednesday that it had set up working groups with a number of foreign countries, including Britain, to determine how international travel could be resumed safely. World leaders will discuss the issue later this week at the G-7 summit in Cornwall.

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