Boris Johnson says that he will be “sticking with our plan” for the government’s Covid response, despite rising case numbers and warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The government introduced a Plan B response for autumn and winter to ease pressure on the NHS but are yet to implement it.
The PM has said that he is "watching the numbers very carefully every day", and admits that they are “high”, but feels no need yet to tighten Covid restrictions. However, a WHO spokesperson has said that it is "not a healthy situation in the UK right now", and people within the NHS have called for a move to Plan B immediately.
This is the eighth day in a row that case numbers have been over 40,000, today reaching 52,009, the highest since 17 July. Health secretary Sajid Javid has predicted that case numbers could rise to 100,000 Covid cases per day as we head into winter and yet there has not been an announcement for any measures to prevent this.
Preventative measures that England could return to in order to curtail rising case numbers include mandatory mask wearing, the promotion of working from home, and vaccination passports for entering venues. The PM has instead continued to encourage people to get vaccinated, saying that there is a "huge level of protection" from vaccines now. However, there are still instances of people catching and transmitting Covid after being vaccinated, with even official government advice stating that “no vaccine is completely effective, so you should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection”.
The PM acknowledged that it was necessary for the UK to "fortify ourselves further" ahead of winter, but claims that further vaccination will be enough to tackle growing case numbers, saying: "The numbers are high, we can see what's happening, we can see the increase, now is the time to get those booster jabs and also to vaccinate the 12 to 15-year-olds as well".
Speaking to Sky News, Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation's special envoy on COVID-19 said that "Vaccines are fantastic lifesavers... but on their own they don't offer what we believe to be sufficient to get this pandemic under control.” He added that, "Now it's really important everybody should be wearing masks, particularly in crowded places, everybody should be practicing social distancing and being careful on hygiene.
"Living with the virus doesn't mean letting go and letting it roam everywhere. Living with the virus means being super careful about it and getting on with our lives."
Lecturer in intensive care medicine at the University of Cambridge, Professor Charlotte Summers, added that she was "expecting an incredibly challenging winter if we don't start taking some action now.
"I'm pretty certain that there is no emergency for which waiting for it to get worse before you take any action is the best way to handle it."