Covid-19: PM insists July unlocking to go ahead in England

 Covid-19: PM insists July unlocking to go ahead in England

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson

Islamabad, 15June: The prime minister Boris Johnson says he is determined the remaining coronavirus restrictions in England will be lifted on 19 July, despite concern that a rise in deaths could force a change of plan.

PM Boris Johnson said the measures must remain in place until then because of the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

However, some Conservative MPs are concerned they could remain for longer.

It comes as a scientific adviser warned there could be a return to hundreds of deaths a day.

Prof Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that numbers of deaths are low at present, but “everyone expects that they will rise”.

“The question is really as to what level they will rise,” he said.

“It is possible we could end up with a situation whereby the numbers of people going to hospital, really mean that the government have to take some kind of action that they don’t want to.”

But , Mr Boris Johnson added that the government has taken action that it didn’t want to throughout the pandemic.

On Monday, Mr Johnson announced a four-week delay to the planned easing of lockdown on 21 June, after scientific advisors warned of a “significant resurgence” in people needing hospital treatment if it went ahead.

He said 19 July would be the “terminus date” for the remaining restrictions on social contact, and the delay would allow more people to get vaccinated.

However, a few restrictions are being lifted on 21 June, including the limit on wedding guest numbers – although venues will still have to adhere to social distancing rules.

Hospitality, wedding and night-time entertainment businesses are among those to have criticised the delay.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said he shared the prime minister’s confidence about the 19 July end date.

“One can never predict the future with perfect confidence,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“But insofar as we can be confident about anything in this complex world, we can be confident that the increased level of vaccination that we will have by 19 July should allow us to further relax restrictions.”

The confidence among ministers that all remaining restrictions will lift on 19 July is understandable given the extent of the vaccine rollout.

But behind the scenes, the one fear is what to do if cases are still rising at that point.

Infections are currently climbing sharply and modelers believe. This could lead to more than 1,000 hospital admissions a day later in the summer.

That is equivalent to what the NHS would face for all types of respiratory illness in the middle of a bad winter.

The hope is that in a couple of weeks infection levels will have started to flatten. And maybe even fall, as the virus hits the wall of immunity built up by the vaccination program.

But there are no guarantees of that.

Knowing the peak of this wave is still to come will make the final decision. Harder if hospitalizations climb as expected.

But the fact remains Covid is always going to present a risk. Exactly how much is hard to quantify at this stage, although it will of course be much much lower than it was before.

In the end, it will come down to balancing that extra risk. The need to get back to our old way of life and reducing the harms caused by our response to Covid.

Web Desk

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