Fears of Covid 'Plan B' if hospitalisations breach 1,200 as cases at 'risky' level, Prof Lockdown warns

Fears of Covid 'Plan B' if hospitalisations breach 1,200 as cases at 'risky' level, Prof Lockdown warns

10/05/2021

ENGLAND is heading into winter with a "risky" level of Covid cases and Plan B could be triggered if hospital admissions hit 1,200 per day.

SAGE adviser Neil Ferguson, aka "Professor Lockdown", said ministers might think about bringing back face masks and working from home if daily admissions double from their current point.

He said the rollout of teens’ vaccines and booster jabs must speed up to bolster immunity and keep a lid on infection rates.

Ending lockdown means Brits are freer than Europeans but “living with Covid” has led to higher cases and hospital admissions than similar countries.

Professor Ferguson said: "If we compare Covid cases per day in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal there’s a much lower level there.

“So they can afford to see something of a surge in transmission without unduly stressing the health system.

"We are much closer to the limit of what the NHS can cope with.”

He suggested ministers could start thinking about bringing back "Plan B" restrictions, including face masks, vaccine passports and working from home, if hospital admissions reach 1,200 per day.

Currently, in England, they are averaging around 600 per day.

Professor Ferguson spoke in a meeting with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, appearing alongside Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the London School of Economics' Dr Jonathan Cylus.

Dr Cylus said: "If you’re looking at 30,000 cases a day it may not matter so much now, but I think it probably will in the winter.

"It’s not a good way to start the winter. It’s risky, I think, and we’re a couple of months ahead of other countries. We’re the canary in the coal mine."

Professor Martin McKee added: “In the European context we’re really not doing well.

“If we were still a member of the European Union we would be pretty close to the bottom.”

Professor McKee said the UK has slipped behind on case rates, deaths and vaccine uptake, with only poorer Baltic states faring worse on most measures.

Official figures show only Lithuania, Romania, Latvia and Estonia have higher infection rates, at more than 500 daily cases per million people.

The UK’s rate is around 490 per million per day, according to Our World in Data statistics, compared to 95 per million in Germany and 73 in France.

Across the EU, only France has more patients in hospital with the virus.

Britain fares slightly better on deaths, with around 1.7 per million people per day, compared to 12 per million in Bulgaria or 0.6 per million in Germany.

Prof McKee said the UK has “lost the lead” on the vaccine rollout, too.

He said: “In terms of vaccine uptake we were well in the lead at the beginning but we have now slipped considerably.

“We are running at about 66 per cent of the total population. That’s well behind Portugal with 85 per cent and Spain at about 78 per cent.”

Prof Ferguson added: “The number one thing the government can do is increase vaccination coverage, increase booster coverage, give two doses to teenagers rather than just one, and ensure population immunity is as high as possible."

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