Plan B of wearing masks and banning indoor gatherings must be implemented immediately, warns NHS chief
Business Secretary Kwarteng said the government “doesn’t think the time is right for Plan B right now.”
He told BBC Breakfast that the return to normal life had been “very hard won”, adding: “The rate of infection was always likely to increase as we opened up the economy, because as people return to normal life, the infection rate was likely to rise.
“But what was crucially important was the hospitalization rate and the death rate as well.”
He insisted that the government “does not wait and observe” the increase in these numbers.
He said: âWe are just trying to analyze the data as we see it and come up with the right policies.
“Now that is something that could change, but at the moment we believe that the course we are setting is the right one.”
Mr. Kwarteng added, however, that it was a “good thing” for people to wear masks in public places.
âI think people should do what they think is the right thing to do,â he said. “They have to, I think, be respectful to others, they have to ensure their safety and the public as well.”
Why are we talking about more restrictions?
The NHS Confederation warning comes as coronavirus deaths in the UK hit their highest daily level since early March, while cases are at their highest for nearly three months.
Downing Street said he was monitoring “very closely” the increase in case rates, but added that the Prime Minister had “absolutely no plan to introduce Plan B”, which could also involve the introduction of vaccine passports for entering a nightclub.
The NHS Confederation is the membership organization that brings together, supports and represents the entire healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Mr Taylor said the NHS was preparing for what could be “the most difficult winter on record” and urged the public to “show extra support for the NHS” by “behaving in a way that ensures their safety and that of others “.
He added: âIt is time for the government to promulgate plan B of its strategy without delay because without preventive action, we risk falling into a winter crisis.
âIn addition, health officials need to understand what a ‘plan C’ would entail if these measures were insufficient.
“The government should not wait for Covid infections to explode and NHS pressures to be very high before the panic alarm sounds.”
Mr Taylor said if the government “fails to contain” the increase in coronavirus cases, the country’s recovery from the pandemic could be “in jeopardy”.
On Tuesday, the government said another 223 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 – bringing the UK total to 138,852.
While numbers are often higher on Tuesday due to a lag in reporting of deaths and cases over the weekend, it is the highest number of deaths reported daily since March 9.
Meanwhile, the seven-day average of cases stands at 44,145 cases per day – the highest level in nearly three months.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson previously said that Plan B would only be used if there was a “significant risk that the NHS would be overwhelmed”.
The spokesperson said: âThere are a number of different factors that would come into play in this decision.
“This would usually be necessary where there was a significant risk that the NHS would be overwhelmed.
“We’re not there yet. Due to the immunization schedule, the levels we’re seeing in hospital admissions and deaths are much lower than we’ve seen in previous peaks.”
On Tuesday, Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the main members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said he believed “plan B” could be implemented in England this winter, but it is little likely that “we will never come close” to the containment the country experienced in January.
He added that the UK is no longer in the top spot among European countries in terms of overall immunization coverage, especially for adolescent immunizations.
The UK now has one of the highest weekly rates of new reported cases in the world.
Just over 67% of the British population has received two doses of the vaccine, according to government figures, compared to at least 75% in Denmark, 79% in Spain and 86% in Portugal.
The weekly rate of new reported cases of Covid-19 in the UK fell from 367 cases per 100,000 people in early October to its current level of 463 per 100,000.
In contrast, rates fell to very low levels in neighboring countries such as Spain (24 per 100,000), France (48) and Germany (80).