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ByJanice K. Merrill

Oct 1, 2021


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A prominent UK government adviser on Covid-19 said he was ‘very fearful’ there would be another ‘Christmas lockdown’ as he urged the public to do everything possible to reduce the transmission of the virus .

Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the Advisory Group on New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats (Nervtag), said the number of cases and death rates are currently “unacceptable”.

He said measures such as working from home and wearing masks are “so important” in efforts to control the spread of Covid.

The expert’s warning comes after the prime minister resisted calls from health officials for tighter restrictions despite rising levels of infections.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week new cases could reach 100,000 a day, but Downing Street insisted there was still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B would not would be activated only if it was under “significant pressure”.

Plan B includes advice on working from home and the mandatory use of face masks.

In Scotland, NHS Lanarkshire is suspending scheduled hospital treatments, including some for cancer patients, as it hits its highest risk level – dubbed ‘Code Black’.

Health council bosses have reportedly emailed staff informing them of the change in status, and Labor said the move shows there is now a “full-fledged NHS crisis”.

It comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to put massive pressure on the NHS across the country, with the military also providing assistance in other areas of the board of health and the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Professor Openshaw of Imperial College London told BBC Breakfast: “I am very concerned that we have another lockdown Christmas if we do not act soon.

“We know that with public health measures, the time to act is immediate. There is no point in delaying.

“If you delay, you will have to take even tougher action later. Immediacy of the response is absolutely vital if you are to get things under control.

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

“If this is what we want, we have to put these measures in place now to reduce transmission rates so that we can actually come together and see each other at Christmas. “

Prof Openshaw said it was “unacceptable to let this work for now,” adding: “I think hospitals in many parts of the country are actually barely doing.

“Speaking to people on the front lines, I think it’s just not sustainable to continue at this rate.

“I think it’s just unacceptable to see the death toll we have right now.

“At one point last week, there were 180 deaths in a single day. It’s just too many deaths. We seem to have gotten used to the idea that we’re going to have a lot, a lot of people dying from Covid and I think that’s just not the case.

“We have to slow down the transmission and really step up our efforts to get everyone and all the boosters vaccinated, and then we can open up again.”

Professor Openshaw was asked what he would say to people who are concerned about what they can do to stop the spread of the virus in the event the government does not reintroduce measures.

He told the program: “I think you are taking matters into your own hands. Don’t necessarily wait for government policy.

“I’m very, very reluctant now to go to crowded spaces because I know about one in 60 people in a crowded space is going to get the virus.

“If you can, cycle to work, don’t take public transport.

“I think I’m doing everything in your power to try to reduce the transmission. Do not wait for the government to change its policy.

“The sooner we all act, the sooner we can reduce this rate of transmission and the greater the prospect of spending Christmas with our families. “

Elsewhere, the World Health Organization has warned that the vaccine alone will not be able to get the world out of the pandemic.

Spokeswoman Margaret Harris told Times Radio: “The problem is focusing on one thing, the vaccine is not going to get us out of there.

“We really need to do other measures.

“We have to be serious so as not to burden ourselves. We should always consider wearing masks, especially when you are indoors. “

Science advisers have told the government it must ensure that Plan B restrictions to tackle the coronavirus can be rolled out “quickly” if needed.

Experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said in minutes of a meeting released on Friday that a huge new spike in infections like the one seen in January was “increasingly unlikely”, as experts have predicted a series of wider, flatter peaks as the virus continues to spread.

However, during its October 14 meeting, Sage warned that the government’s Plan B measures would have the greatest effect if implemented in unison and sooner rather than later.

Scientists favor a relatively light-weight approach implemented earlier to make a difference, with Sage saying that “the reintroduction of work-from-home orientation is likely to have the greatest individual impact on out-of-home transmission. of the measures proposed “in Plan B.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told The Times the country could not revert to “significant economic restrictions” and the vaccine rollout meant it was not necessary, while Boris Johnson also said on Friday that another lockdown was not planned.

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls has warned businesses will not survive another winter of lockdown restrictions.

When asked to Times Radio if she thought businesses would survive if the government went ahead with Plan B, she replied, “No, I don’t, outright. We have already lost 12,000 businesses.

She said that when restrictions are in place, “consumers stay at home, they don’t go out and socialize.”

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