GAMBLING with people’s lives, the new Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid made a statement on removing Covid-19 restrictions yesterday.
He told Parliament: ‘We must balance the risks, the risks of a virus that has diminished but not been defeated, against the risks of keeping these restrictions and the health, social and economic hardship that we know they bring.
‘The vaccination programme’s protective wall has meant that the odds have shifted in our favour.’
He said: ‘We can soon begin a new chapter based on the foundations of personal responsibility and common sense rather than the blunt instrument of rules and regulations.
‘We will soon be able to take a risk-based approach.’
He then announced that not only will mask-wearing and social distancing restrictions be removed, but the rules of self-isolation for those who have been double jabbed and for children in schools will also be removed.
Javid stated: ‘From the 16th of August, when even more people will have the protection of both doses, and modelling suggests that the risks from the virus will be even lower, anyone who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate if they have been fully vaccinated.
‘In line with the approach for adults, anyone under the age of 18 who is in close contact with a positive case, will also no longer have to self isolate.
‘Instead, they will be given advice on whether they should get tested dependent on age and will only need to self-isolate if they test positive.
‘These measures will come into effect on 16th August ahead of the new school term starting.’
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth responded: ‘This morning the Secretary of State was warning that he expects to hit 100,000 a day.
‘With infections running at 100,000 a day, that would translate into about 5,000 people a day developing long-term chronic illness “Long-Covid”. What will the long-term Covid waiting list look like by the end of summer?
‘He justified allowing infections to climb by pointing to the weakened link between hospitalisation and deaths and that we are building a protective wall.’
Referring to statistics which show that half of the UK population have now been vaccinated he said: ‘Of course, that wall is only half built.’
- HEALTH and social care secretary Sajid Javid’s forecast that Covid cases could top 100,000 daily as restrictions ease, will leave already exhausted NHS staff buckling under the ‘unbearable’ pressure, the Unite union warned yesterday.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that there were serious questions to be asked over what it described as the ‘gung-ho’ easing of restrictions from 19 July unveiled by the prime minister on Monday 5th.
Unite said that the pressures, for example, on the biomedical scientist workforce who test for Covid, are intolerable with holidays being curtailed to meet the expected surge in demand for testing.
Extra funding is urgently needed to meet the increase in cases and hospitalisations as the successful vaccination programme has not completely broken the link with people getting infected.
Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: ‘We have serious questions about Boris Johnson’s gung-ho approach to the easing of restrictions from 19 July.
‘All bets have been placed on the vaccination programme holding the line, but there is no guarantee that this will be a completely successful strategy.
‘There must be a review to the decision to end social distancing and mask wearing in hospitals, clinics and other NHS buildings in order to protect the public and our members working in the health service.
‘Our members have been fighting coronavirus for the last 16 months and they are exhausted. An increase in hospitalisations which will follow from 100,000 infections a day will add to their immense workloads.
‘Already we are hearing reports from our members of holidays being curtailed to meet the expected demand.
‘A massive cash injection is required to tackle the pressures on the NHS this summer and running into the autumn – and also to ameliorate the ever-present ‘recruitment and retention’ crisis throughout the health service. The NHS has an estimated 100,000 vacancies, including 40,000 nursing posts.
‘Javid himself has already conceded that seven million people have been put off getting NHS treatments for their problems during the pandemic, so where are the resources to get to grips with this daunting backlog? There are still serious questions that the government has so far yet to address.’
Unite, which represents tens of thousands of public transport workers, has already called on the government to reverse proposals to end the requirement for masks to be worn on buses and trains.