Tuesday, November 30, 2021

UK encourages booster shots and resists new viral restrictions

LONDON (AP) – Pressurized by growing infections and alarmed health experts, the British government on Wednesday called on millions of people to get boosted, but has resisted calls for re-imposing coronavirus restrictions, such as the mandatory wearing of masks.

Britain relies heavily on vaccines to contain the spread of the virus during the fall and winter months. Nearly 80% of people 12 and older in the UK have received two doses of the vaccine, and boosters are being offered to millions, including everyone over 50.

But critics say the campaign to spur the spread of the virus is progressing more slowly than the virus. This week, the UK recorded nearly 50,000 new infections in a single day, with an average of over 44,000 cases per day, up 16% from the previous week.

Matthew Taylor, executive director of the NHS Confederation Health Group, said the UK health system risks being overwhelmed if more measures are not taken now to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It is time for the government to immediately adopt Plan B of its strategy, because without preventive measures we risk facing the winter crisis,” he said.

The Conservative government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted internal restrictions on the coronavirus in July, including mandatory facial wear and social distancing. Nightclubs and other crowded establishments were allowed to operate at full capacity, and people were no longer encouraged to work from home.

READ MORE: UK Faces Calls for ‘Plan B’ With High And Rising Cases Of Virus

Some scientists feared a large spike in coronavirus cases following the discovery. This did not happen, but the infection has remained consistently high and has recently begun to rise, especially among children, who remain largely unvaccinated.

Last week, the Office for National Statistics estimated that one in 60 people in England had the virus, one of the highest levels ever seen in the UK.

The number of hospitalizations and deaths is gradually increasing: over the past week, an average of 130 people died per day. The UK has recorded over 138,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest in Europe after Russia.

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Against this background, some believe that the British returned too quickly to pre-pandemic behavior. Masks and social distancing have all but disappeared in most places in England, including schools, although Scotland and other parts of the UK remain slightly more restrictive. Even in shops where masks are recommended and in the London transport network, where they are mandatory, compliance is patchy.

A plan to require proof of vaccination for nightclubs, concerts and other public events in England has been rejected by the government amid opposition from legislators, although Scotland has introduced a vaccine skipping program this month.

Critics say the vaccination program – one of the fastest in the world earlier this year – is progressing too slowly, with about 180,000 booster doses being administered per day. More than half of the people eligible for the booster have not yet received it.

The UK has also waited longer than the US and many European countries to vaccinate children between the ages of 12 and 15, and only about 15% of this age group in England have been vaccinated since they became eligible last month.

The government says it will act to boost vaccination rates through a new advertising campaign and more sites where children can get vaccinated.

On Wednesday, he also renewed calls for people to exercise caution, although critics say such calls will be ineffective if they are not supported by the law.

“The number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise and winter is approaching,” said England’s chief physician Chris Whitty. “Ventilation, masks in crowded areas and hand washing are still important.”

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, now is the time,” he said. “If you are offered a booster, accept this offer.”

Business secretary Kwasi Quarteng said the government is keeping a close eye on the numbers but does not think “now is the time for Plan B.”

“At the moment, we think the course we have charted is the right one,” he said.

Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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