Health leaders have called on the British government to introduce ‘Plan B’ measures to prevent a COVID-19 crisis this winter.
The government established its winter strategy for the coronavirus pandemic in September, which included a plan to enact additional measures if its national health service was overwhelmed.
On Tuesday night, the NHS Confederation warned that the government needed to take “preventative measures” amid “worrying increases in coronavirus cases in its hospital and community.”
According to government statistics, more than 43,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, with cases topping 40,000 each day for the past week.
Cases have not been this high in the UK since July, and while the vaccination campaign appears to be keeping hospitalizations and deaths much lower than in previous periods of the pandemic, health leaders warn that action must be taken as the NHS prepares for “what could be the most challenging winter on record.”
Matthew Taylor, executive director of the NHS Confederation, said: “It is time for the government to enact Plan B of its strategy without delay because without preventive action, we risk falling into a winter crisis.”
He added that a ‘Plan C’ should be considered in case the Plan B measures were insufficient.
The UK government’s current plan for winter, in which seasonal illnesses like flu are expected to add to pressure on the NHS, includes giving booster shots of the COVID vaccine, implementing the vaccination campaign against the largest flu in history and support the NHS with more financial resources. support.
Plan B, which was outlined by Health Secretary Sajid Javid in September, would be implemented if unsustainable pressure was put on the NHS.
It includes a legal obligation to cover their faces in certain settings, vaccination passes in certain settings, and asking people to work from home for a limited time.
“The government should not wait for Covid infections to skyrocket and NHS pressures to skyrocket before the panic alarm sounds,” Matthew Taylor insisted.
“As coronavirus cases continue to rise, along with other demands on the health service and pressure on staff capacity in both the NHS and social care, leaders are concerned about what could be around the corner. from the corner.
“There is a crucial opportunity for the public to come together and show additional support for the NHS by behaving in ways that keep themselves and others safe and also safeguard extended frontline services for those most in need.”
Some experts have said another lockdown might be necessary to resolve the cases in the UK, but on Wednesday morning, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News that he would “rule it out”.
The soaring number of cases in the UK has been attributed to the amount of testing being done, but also to the UK’s relatively lax measurements compared to other European countries.
The number of large indoor events without the need for a vaccine passport has increased, and the mandatory use of masks in England ended in July.
Scotland has introduced a vaccine passport scheme for nightclubs and big events since October 1, enforceable by law. However, coronavirus cases also remain high.
About 15% of Britons never wear a mask, compared to around 5% among their European neighbors, according to a YouGov poll in mid-October.
Even on London public transport, where masks are still mandatory, a high proportion of passengers ignore the rule.