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20th Oct 2021

Bring back masks and WFH or risk winter Covid surge, Johnson warned

Danny Jones

Masks and working from home could return in Covid plan B

We could be going back into lockdown very soon

The government must implement a sweeping “plan B” for winter measures immediately as coronavirus numbers continue to climb, the head of the NHS Confederation has warned.

This comes after it was announced yesterday (October 19) that there were more daily deaths than on the same date last year – the point at which we were already heading into the tiered lockdown system.

NHS Confederation CEO Matthew Taylor says that preparations need to be made immediately or we could risk not only another peak but a crisis that could further derail public health efforts, with the NHS already tackling a backlog of five million patients.

The government’s current plan (A) for dealing with Covid-19 in England this winter includes booster jabs – set to be offered to around 30 million people – a single dose of a vaccine for healthy 12 to 15-year-olds and advising people to once again wear face coverings in crowded areas.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that if these steps are not enough, the danger is that it could lead to “unsustainable pressure” on the NHS, at which point steps like mandatory masks in more settings, working from home, vaccine passports and further measures should be considered as part of a plan B – with an aim to have it roll out sooner rather than later.

As opposed to waiting to see if we fall into yet another crisis, he insisted that we need to be proactive and take pre-emptive action, suggesting that: “The government ought to not just announce that we’re moving to plan B, but it should be plan B plus”, which would entail even more actively encouraged vaccine recruitment, volunteering for NHS services and more vaccine certification.

At present, the above measures are pretty much all we know about plan B – that and it will be decided as we continue monitoring hospitalisations, rapid changes in figures and the overall state of the NHS. A spokesperson for the PM has said there are currently “no plans” for contingency measures in the current winter strategy.

Nevertheless, it seems as though we could already be returning to a more socially distanced society over the coming weeks and months as the UK is set to face a “difficult winter“.

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