Friday, August 12, 2022

Lockdown ends at least in England

LONDON – Pubs have opened for drinks indoors, lights have been turned on in theaters and airports buzzed with a steady stream of travelers yesterday, but the latest easing of the Covid-19 restrictions in England has been accompanied by growing fears that a variant of the virus a full return to normalcy.

The lifting of a wide range of coronavirus rules coincides on Monday with a small but worrying increase in cases of a variant, first identified in India, that a road map described by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as’ cautious but irreversibly ‘threatened’.

The second part of the promise sounds less secure than it once seemed. Over the past few days, authorities have been scrambling to increase testing and vaccination in parts of the country, and the cases of the more transmissible variant have increased sharply. More than 6,200 people were vaccinated over the weekend in Bolton, a city hit hard near Manchester in the north-west of England.

The opposition party of Labor called Mr. Johnson accuses him of causing the trouble by deciding to close borders to flights from India last month, while government scientific advisers have expressed concern about moving too fast to remove curbs.

Even Mr. Johnson, who is normally only too eager to mock pessimists as ‘doomsters and sommers’, urged Britons to be cautious in the face of the threat of the new variant and said there was a risk of ‘significant disruption’ of the plans. for relief of rules.

Johnson also did not plan to visit a bar or restaurant to celebrate in front of the TV cameras, his office said.

In the past few weeks, Mr. Johnson earned a tribute to a very successful vaccination program that, along with limiting exclusion, reduced the incidence and mortality rates to a fraction of their peak numbers. This has enabled England to start easing the burden on many of the parts of the economy worst affected by a blockade in January.

Under the changes that went into effect Monday, pubs and restaurants can serve indoors as well as outdoors, and people can embrace each other and mingle in limited numbers in their homes.

A legal ban on all foreign travel, except essentials, has also ended, but travelers to any destination other than a small number of destinations will have to be quarantined upon their return.

Altogether, it represents the first true breath of freedom in England since the third national exclusion was declared in early January. Although restaurants and pubs had been able to serve food and drink outdoors for several weeks, the weather was unpleasantly cold and it rained frequently, and many eaters and drinkers shivered in damp beer gardens.

Although the government will fight hard not to have to reverse the changes introduced on Monday, there is growing doubt whether it can continue with the next phase of the roadmap. The change, which takes place on 21 June, would abolish almost all remaining restrictions.

But with an increase in cases in some communities, including Bolton, the government is refusing to rule out any measures that could include the imposition of new restrictions on specific Covid-19 hotspots.

“We need to be humble about this virus,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told parliament on Monday, adding that there were now 86 areas with five or more cases of the variant whose higher transmission rate posed a real risk. “Although the total numbers remain low at 2323, they have increased rapidly.

Mr. Johnson continues to hear criticism for not getting caught up fast enough on travel from India, and even saved it a few weeks after placing restrictions on travel from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

According to Britain’s travel system, those coming from a high – risk “red list” country should be quarantined in hotels.

“Our borders were as safe as a sieve,” said Jonathan Ashworth, who spoke to the opposition Labor Party on health issues. “The delay in adding India to the red list is surely now a catastrophic mistake.”

Pakistan and Bangladesh were on the list on April 9, but India was only added on April 23, and Johnson’s critics suggested he was reluctant to sign India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom he was trying to reach a trade deal. to upset.

Mr. Hancock rejected the claim, saying that significantly more people arriving from Bangladesh and Pakistan tested positive for Covid-19 than those arriving from India. In parliament, he accused the Labor Party on Monday of selective reflection and said the Indian variant was not identified as a matter of concern last month.

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However, some experts believe that the government should have reacted more quickly to the emergence of the variant. “Many of us in the UK, we are appalled at the huge delay in classifying it as a variant of concern,” Peter said. English, a retired consultant in charge of communicable diseases.

“You can not stop diseases from crossing borders – it will inevitably,” he said, adding: “But you can slow the spread, and as it happens, you can learn more about it.”

Mr. English said there is not yet enough data available to determine how effective it is vaccines are in the fight against the variant, but added that more financial support should be provided to those with low incomes who need to isolate themselves.

Generally, Britons are vaccinated based on their age, with the oldest being treated first. The appointments should be extended this week to 37-year-olds, Mr. Hancock said.

In areas affected by the Indian variant, it appears that health chiefs offer vaccination to some younger people, using the flexibility in guidelines that indicate, for example, the vaccination of those living in a multigenerational household.

On Monday, Mr. Hancock also said most patients out of 19 cases in Bolton hospitals are eligible, but have not had one. This has led to a debate inside and outside Johnson’s Conservative party on whether to lift the restrictions on closure to protect people who refuse a vaccine.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer and theater impresario, told the BBC that the reluctance of vaccines is not only foolish, but selfish. He added that he could not reopen his shows without the assurance that all restrictions would be lifted from June 21, making the full seat possible without distancing.

“I feel just as strong at the moment, especially the people who are not being vaccinated and all, how selfish it is because so many people are dependent on this June 21 date, they are really dependent on it,” he said.

Megan Specia contributed reporting from London.

Nation World News Desk
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