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21st Dec 2021

New year is ‘too late’ for extra Covid restrictions, say scientists

Danny Jones

Scientists warn extra Covid restrictions are 'too late'

The ‘two-week circuit breaker’ may not be soon enough or even long enough

Scientists are warning that the added Covid measures being considered by the UK government are simply not soon enough.

On Monday, it was reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is debating bringing back lockdown restrictions and, crucially, a ban on indoor mixing after Christmas, meaning that the bulk of time spent social distancing would take place in the new year.

However, as per The Guardian, experts like the University of East Anglia’s (UAE) Paul Hunter says, “We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t”. Cabinet ministers are also said to be torn over waiting until the 27th or even the new year, but scientists have made it pretty clear: wait any longer and it will “almost certainly be too late to have a material impact on the epidemic”.

Boris Covid update

The UK is currently sitting at over 91,000 daily Covid cases and last week it broke the record for the most daily cases three days in a row, peaking at 93,045. Moreover, in excess of 10,000 of those infections are now thought to be the Omicron variant.

Hunter goes on to say that “If we implement control measures now, they are unlikely to be sufficient to reverse the growth, only slow it. But there may still be benefits in slowing the peak, in terms of flattening the curve.” – the added fear, as always, being that the number of those admitted to hospital could overwhelm the NHS.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has already criticised the unvaccinated for taking up hospital beds, with 11% of people in England still thought to be unjabbed – around five and a half million people.

Professor Christina Pagel, director of UCL’s clinical operational research unit, reinforced Hunter’s logic, stating that, “waiting for definitive evidence that it could cause the NHS to be overwhelmed will be too late to avert the crisis”, going on to urge that the government “follow Sage advice […] to prevent thousands of infections over the coming days and then monitor the situation hour by hour”.

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