COVID data will determine UK lockdown

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 22, 2021

Mr Hancock said the government would take a "cautious but irreversible approach" to easing COVID measures.

In a series of broadcast interviews on Sunday morning, he said there will be "weeks between the steps" so ministers can "watch carefully" the impact of each relaxation of the restrictions.

The British government declared today that every adult in the country should get a first coronavirus vaccine shot by July 31, at least a month earlier than its previous target, as it prepared to set out a "cautious" plan to ease the UK's lockdown.

The total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test now stands at 120,580, and confirmed cases, since the pandemic began, have reached 4,115,509. "We are in a race right now - between our ability to vaccinate and these variants which are actively trying to proliferate - and we will only win that race if we stay smart and disciplined".

John Edmunds, a member of the government's scientific advisory group, said British hospitals are still treating nearly 20,000 coronavirus patients, half the January peak but nearly as much as the height of the first surge last spring.

"The second is - because children very, very rarely get symptoms or serious illness from the disease - the value, the importance, of vaccinating children is to try to stop the spread of the disease".

But Conservative former chief whip Mark Harper, leader of the Covid Recovery Group of lockdown-sceptic backbenchers, said all legal restrictions put in place in response to the pandemic should be lifted by the end of April.

A third (33.4%) of the United Kingdom adult population has now been given the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Thousands of people living in an area of Leeds are being urged to take a coronavirus test from Monday 22 February after two potential cases of the South African variant were detected. "We want to set out a roadmap which gives people guidance in terms of how we think we'll be able to do this".

The first minister is expected to publish a route map out of lockdown later this week.

Mr Hancock told the Sophy Ridge On Sunday show that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has been asked to recommend which groups, beyond those first nine, should then be prioritised "in order to reduce the number of deaths as fast as possible".

- Mr Hancock declined to apologise amid calls for greater accountability after the High Court ruled that the Government unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds' worth of coronavirus-related contracts.

- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the pandemic has "stripped the paper off the cracks" in society and people need to have confidence that the "road map" out of lockdown will be delivered.

The first case of the South African mutant strain of COVID-19 has been identified in a resident of New York State. Many children will go back to school beginning March 8 and nursing home residents will be able to have one visitor from the same date.

"The risk comes when we release the lockdown", he said, adding that allowing the virus to circulate in younger healthier people could lead to further mutations that undermine the vaccine programme.

"I have been anxious through the pandemic - a number of people have - about the impact that being out of school has on, particularly, vulnerable children and the attainment gap is getting bigger".

In a statement after the ruling, the Good Law Project said: "This judgment is a victory for all of us concerned with proper governance and proof of the power of litigation to hold Government to account".

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