It was evident from Dr Chris Whitty at yesterday’s press conference that the UK has a very serious new Omicron epidemic which is already huge in London and spreading everywhere. In Devon we already have a large Delta epidemic, which is still continuing alongside Omicron – you can even catch both at the same time.
Yet bumbling Boris Johnson could only repeat ‘boosters, boosters’ and – afraid of his ‘ostrich’ backbenchers like Simon Jupp – failed to back up Whitty’s crucial plea to everyone to reduce their social contacts. Therefore the onus is on us to be the grown-ups in the room and follow Whitty’s advice.
Quite simply, if we don’t, the likelihood is that quite a few of the people who will fall seriously ill with Covid and other conditions over the next couple of months will not get the treatment they need. This is not an abstract threat. In Spring 2020, many – especially older – people who were gravely ill were never admitted to hospital, and died when they could have been saved. It could easily happen again. The NHS is already creaking terribly under the strain of the Delta pandemic.
Boosters and vaccinations are vital, but I agree with Independent Sage – the UK-based group of scientists who monitor the pandemic and make public recommendations – that boosters+Plan B are not enough in this situation, even though working from home and wearing face masks are important measures (make sure those masks are FFP2 which are far more protective).
Please read their full statement of the situation. This is what they say the Government should do next:
- A return to Step 2 of the Spring roadmap where outdoor mixing, retail and outdoor hospitality remain open but indoor hospitality and entertainment are shut.
- No indoor gatherings between households of any size (excepting bubbled individuals and other roadmap exceptions).
- All close contacts of new cases must isolate for 10 days, with financial and practical support to do so.
- Adequate financial support for affected businesses.
- Neither schools that choose to end term early nor parents who take their children out of school for the last few days of term should be penalised.
- Continuation of the concerted effort to get as many people vaccinated (particularly younger age groups for whom uptake is low) and boosted as possible.