Friday, February 25, 2022

'SUPER-SPREADER JOHNSON': Party-Goer and Lockdown Hypocrite Boris Johnson Tells Public 'Do not throw caution to the wind' on CV

Source: BBC

Published: February 20, 2022

By: Harriet Agerholm & Dulcie Lee

People should not throw caution to the wind over Covid, the prime minister has said, as England is expected to end all virus restrictions in the coming days.

Boris Johnson told the BBC that while Covid remains dangerous for some, "now is the moment for everybody to get their confidence back".

He said testing would be taking place at a "much lower level", revealing £2bn was spent on the system in January.

The legal requirement to self-isolate is also set to be dropped this week.

Currently, positive or symptomatic people must isolate for up to 10 days.

"We think you can shift the balance away from state mandation," he said, outlining the thinking behind the government's "living with Covid" plan.

Mr Johnson told the BBC's Sunday Morning show he wants to address the pandemic with a "vaccine-led approach", shifting the balance away from "banning certain courses of action".

Asked about a possible future restrictions, he told Sophie Raworth he did not want rules to return, but warned: "You've got to be humble in the face of nature."

Labour said Mr Johnson was "declaring victory before the war is over", while some scientists and charities helping vulnerable people have expressed concern at plans to lift restrictions while Covid infections are high.

Current coronavirus laws were due to expire on 24 March, but last week Mr Johnson suggested all of England's remaining measures could end this month instead if the data remained encouraging.

Some 34,377 Covid cases were recorded on Saturday, with another 128 deaths within 28 days of a positive test. It brings the total number of deaths by this measure to 160,507.

About one in 20 people in England had the infection in the week ending 12 February, according to the Office for National Statistics. Meanwhile, about 91% of people in the UK aged 12 and over have had a first dose of the vaccine, 85% a second jab, and 66% a booster or a third dose.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the chair of the British Medical Association, said there was no reason to bring the plan to relax restrictions forward.

He told the BBC infections need to fall further and called on ministers to release data to support their decision.

"You have at the moment more people dying, more people in the hospital, than you had before Plan B [restrictions] was introduced," he said, describing the ending of the rules as "a rather odd decision to make".

"It does appear as if the government is trying to pretend that Covid doesn't exist in the day-to-day lives of so many people."

As part of the planned lifting of restrictions next week, local authorities in England would become responsible for managing outbreaks using pre-existing powers.

Community PCR testing, aimed at people with symptoms, was expected to stop under the new plan, although it remains unclear whether the distribution of lateral flow tests will be scaled back.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said on Thursday ending free lateral flow tests was "the direction of travel". But the potential move was criticised by Wales's health minister, who said "England alone" cannot decide to stop distributing the tests.

Asked if there was a danger of missing early warning signs by getting rid of testing, the prime minister said: "I want to make sure we have the capability to spot stuff and to snap back up as fast as we need to".

But Mr Johnson argued it was not necessary to keep spending £2bn a month on testing, as he said was happening in January.

"I think it's very important we should remain careful," he said.

Mr Johnson said: "I don't want people to get completely the wrong idea, I'm not saying you can totally throw caution to the winds - Covid remains dangerous if you're vulnerable and if you're not vaccinated, but we need people to be much more confident and get back to work."

Under the new plans, the Office for National Statistics infection survey, which randomly tests a sample of the population, is also expected to be replaced with a slimmed down surveillance programme.

Despite the huge number of Covid infections this winter, the overall numbers of deaths have remained in line with what we would normally see at this time of year.

That suggests Covid is no longer an exceptional threat so it is understandable the exceptional response taken to manage the virus should be reviewed. Covid will now have to compete with other spending priorities.

During the pandemic, £37bn has been set aside for testing and tracing. That is a huge sum - more than has been budgeted for GP care over the same period. It could, for example, make huge inroads into the hospital waiting list.

A big scaling back of testing is expected alongside the end of the isolation rule. Concerns will naturally be raised.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that whatever happens we are not going from 100% to 0%.

Only around half of people who are infected come forward for testing and so are never asked to isolate. Of those that do, a fifth admit to not adhering fully to the isolation guidance.

Leaving it to the public to exercise their judgement about when they should stay at home may not have as big an impact as assumed.

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