December 6, 2021

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Scientific advisers urge government to add Covid protections now to avoid a ‘lockdown Christmas’

Scientific advisers urge government to add Covid protections now to avoid a ‘lockdown Christmas’
Two top scientific advisers have warned the UK is heading for another winter lockdown if the government does not reintroduce some Covid protection measures as soon as possible. Vaccines are “wonderful” but “not quite enough”, according to Professor Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which works with SAGE. “I…

Two top scientific advisers have warned the UK is heading for another winter lockdown if the government does not reintroduce some Covid protection measures as soon as possible.

Vaccines are “wonderful” but “not quite enough”, according to Professor Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which works with SAGE.

“I get a sense we are rather dilly-dallying into lockdown,” he told Sky News. “If we don’t have those other protections now, as happened last year if we wait and allow things to run out of control, we will need later restrictions.”

Pressure is mounting on the government to reintroduce some light Covid measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus as we head into winter.

Health secretary Sajid Javid warned this week that new cases could surge to 100,000 a day, but the PM has insisted that the NHS still has spare capacity.

As per the most recent government plan, the “Plan B” involving mores restrictions will only be introduced if lawmakers believe that the NHS is under “significant pressure”.

But the scientific community is urging the government to reconsider, as the latest daily new case count for 22 October stood at almost 50,000.

“It’s remarkable we are in a situation where the government’s own public health leaders are giving advice which is at odds with what the government is actually doing,” Professor Reicher added.

His comments echo those made earlier by Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the government’s new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group (NERVTAG).

But showing little faith in the government’s progress towards new guidance, Openshaw called on the public not to wait for new rules and to act personally to stop the spread.

“I think take matters into your own hands. Don’t wait necessarily for government policy,” he told BBC Breakfast this morning.

“I’m very, very reluctant now to go into crowded spaces because I know that roughly one in 60 people in a crowded space are going to have the virus.

“If you can, cycle to work, don’t go on public transport.”

Openshaw urged people to act now to reduce the transmission rate, so that harsher measures aren’t required around the time of Christmas.

“We all really, really want a wonderful family Christmas where we can all get back together.

“If that’s what we want, we need to get these measures in place now in order to get transmission rates right down so that we can actually get together and see one another over Christmas,” he said.

Joining scientific advisers, local authorities around the UK have called on the government to introduce its Plan B Covid measures.

Health officials in Liverpool have moved ahead of the central government and today issued guidance to residents to work from home again, in order to prevent pressure on the NHS as we head into winter.

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