‘Better quality of debate’ on end of Covid lockdown rules needed, health chief says
A health chief called for a more informed debate on the planned lifting of all legal limits on social contact in England on June 21, as Labor questioned whether the movement would be continued.
The continued spread of the Indian variant of the coronavirus has prompted experts to say restrictions should remain in place until more people have received both doses of a vaccine as ministers draw up plans for a partial end lock.
NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson told BBC Breakfast that a “much better quality of debate” was needed on the implications of the easing measures, according to the BBC.
Hospitals were treating patients with complex needs who had delayed treatment earlier in the pandemic and now required longer stays, he said.
Staff were “doing their utmost” to cope with waiting lists and had no room for a significant increase in the number of Covid patients, he added.
“While it’s great news that vaccinations are working – and I think it sends us a message in terms of opening up on June 21 – what we need to keep in mind is that there are still plenty of people who need to be vaccinated, and we know this variant originating in India is much more transmissible, ”Mr. Hopson said.
“So there’s going to be a very difficult decision on how quickly we open, and that’s why we’re calling very clearly this morning – let’s have the best quality of trade-off debate here and try, if I can be that bold, to have a better quality of evidence-based debate on how quickly we should ease the lockdowns that perhaps we had in previous phases.
He also suggested the government should take into account the increased burden on hospitals in UK holiday hotspots in the coming months, saying trust staff in those areas were “really worried” heading into the summer. .
In The Observer, opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer said that “weak and slow decisions” by the government on border policy had allowed the Indian variant to spread.
He added that “the greatest threat” to the complete reopening of England was “the incompetence of the government”.
It comes as new figures have shown that more than half of people in their 30s in England have received a coronavirus vaccination in just over two weeks.
NHS England said since it began to open the vaccine rollout to this age group on May 13, around 53% of people aged 30 to 39 have received at least one dose.
People aged 30 to 31 were the most recent group to be invited for their jab – starting Wednesday – with more than five million appointments made by the nation’s reservation service within 72 hours.
Current data suggests that although hospital admissions are increasing in parts of the country affected by the Indian variant, overall admissions remain broadly stable.
Meanwhile, the reproduction number – the R-value – for England is 1 to 1.1, down from 0.9 and 1.1 the week before, suggesting the epidemic is on the rise.
A science adviser has warned that confusion over the government’s handling of Covid restrictions is undermining efforts to control the virus.
Professor Stephen Reicher, a psychologist on the Sage subcommittee who advises ministers on behavioral science, said the government was in a “pickle” because it appeared to have abandoned the “data, not dates” principle. “.
Meanwhile, British intelligence agents now believe it is “doable” that the pandemic started with a leak from a research lab in Wuhan, China.
The Times says the development, which Beijing angrily denied, prompted US diplomatic sources to share their concerns: “We are at a wet market or a biological lab away from the next overflow.”