LOCKDOWN could be introduced back this winter if Britain is threatened by a dangerous new Covid variant.
Ministers and scientists warned the emergence of a pressure that could escape the vaccines can be a “potential trigger” for reimposing restrictions.
Boris Johnson mentioned the Government will do “whatever we can” to cease extra mutations coming into the nation from overseas.
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty added: “The worry would be one that can escape from the vaccination”.
But talking at a NO 10 press convention he added that the Delta pressure already dominant within the UK is “a very bad variant”.
And he warned its unfold throughout the chilly winter months could also be sufficient to tip the NHS into disaster and spark new restrictions.
Earlier well being secretary Sajid Javid mentioned the danger of additional mutations means one other lockdown cannot be utterly dominated out.
He made the remarks within the Commons as he laid out the Government’s twin-track plan to keep away from one other nationwide shutdown.
It comes as…
- Scientists warned UK case charges ‘do not bode nicely for winter’
- Boris Johnson is about to warn Brits the pandemic is ‘removed from over’
- No 10 is about to inexperienced mild plans to reopen worldwide journey
- All over-50s will probably be supplied a booster jab by Christmas
- Vaccination of over-12s is about to start inside days
Plan A includes a vaccine booster plus flu vaccine blitz alongside pumping hundreds of thousands extra into the NHS and Test and Trace.
If that fails there’s a fallback blueprint for the reintroducing of masks, working from dwelling, and vaccine passport.
But the well being secretary could not rule out that much more drastic motion will probably be wanted if a dangerous new variant emerges.
He was pressed on the circumstances underneath which the Government would resort to reimposing a nationwide lockdown.
Mr Javid replied: “In terms of any potential triggers, one thing I would highlight is the importance of being on guard against any future variants.
“Especially if there may be ever a variant that’s, as an example a ‘vaccine escape variant’ – nobody can rule that out.
“That is why our surveillance system is so vital, however in that scenario I believe the Government would have to take additional motion.
“We couldn’t say what that action would be today, but that is the kind of risk that we need to be on guard.”
The well being secretary mentioned ministers will “retain some powers for local restrictions if absolutely necessary”.
But any return to a full lockdown together with shutting retailers and pubs and keep at dwelling orders would require new laws and a Commons vote.
This morning the vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted such curbs will solely be reimposed as an “absolutely last resort”.
But he confirmed that “contingency plans” have been drawn up to bring back restrictions if needed.
And he mentioned it will be “foolhardy to rule out anything” given earlier experiences of how shortly the virus can unfold.
But he additionally expressed confidence the booster jab programme plus an enormous flu vaccination drive will stave off one other lockdown.
Boris Johnson struck a cautious word at a No 10 press convention this afternoon setting out his plan for the winter.
The PM warned that the struggle in opposition to Covid is “far from over” and urged Brits to stay vigilant in opposition to the virus.
Boris mentioned some restrictions like masks carrying and dealing from dwelling could return if a new surge threatens the NHS.
Meanwhile a prime scientist warned Britain is heading for an additional lockdown this winter and blamed ministers for lifting measures too early.
Asked about the potential of extra restrictions, Mr Zahawi mentioned right now: “Lockdowns can be a fully final resort.
“We’re about to embark on a massive booster campaign and of course a flu vaccination programme.”
He added: “I am concerned about flu. We haven’t had much flu circulating anywhere in the world and in a bad year we could lose up to 25,000 people to flu.
“The vital factor to keep in mind is that, as we embark on the winter months, viruses have an inbuilt benefit, whether or not it’s flu or the Covid virus.
“It would be foolhardy to think this thing has already transitioned from pandemic to endemic.”
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The vaccines minister mentioned the UK is in a significantly better place to battle Covid than this time final 12 months.
He pointed to the excessive variety of individuals double-jabbed as nicely as a greater take a look at and hint system and improved “radar” to catch variants.
But he added: “Of course, we have to have contingency planning. All the time we have information coming in on how the virus is behaving.”
Ministers and scientists are apprehensive the nation faces a tough winter that may as soon as once more put stress on the NHS.
The virus will probably be in a position to unfold extra simply as soon as unhealthy climate drives individuals indoors, whereas vaccine immunity could be waning for some.
Covid charges have been stubbornly excessive at round 30,000 new infections a day for weeks – although the return of faculties hasn’t but shifted the dial.
Professor Ravi Gupta, who sits on the NERVTAG advisory group, mentioned restrictions had been lifted too shortly over the summer time.
He mentioned: “It’s pretty clear that we’re not out of the woods and it doesn’t bode well for going into winter at all.
“If we forged our minds back to July 19 many scientists had been saying that ‘we want to take this slowly, the transmission charges are far too excessive’.
“What we’re seeing now is really the result of that advice not being heeded and now we’re in a position where we’re talking about lockdowns again.”
PM press convention
At a No 10 press convention this afternoon the PM introduced a large booster jab programme for over-50s plus a record-breaking flu vaccine rollout.
He hopes this will present the primary and main line of defence in opposition to a repeat of final winter’s spike in circumstances and deaths.
Vaccinations of over 12s will even start inside days to assist cease the unfold of the virus in faculties.
But he additionally revealed his intention to bring back some restrictions over the winter months if the NHS comes underneath stress.
Mandatory masks could also be reintroduced in crowded locations like public transport inside weeks to cut back the danger of transmission.
They are one of many best measures to bring back as officers say they’ve little impression on individuals’s each day lives or the financial system.
Brits could even be informed to begin working from dwelling once more if a new Covid wave begins to take maintain.
It would not bode nicely for going into winter in any respect
Prof Ravi Gupta
And some social distancing guidelines, specifically round giant occasions, could be introduced back.
But the PM can be introduced that he is pausing or ditching another restrictions on our each day lives.
He’s put the brakes on plans for vaccine passports, which had been due to are available in for nightclubs from subsequent month.
Boris mentioned they’re being held “in reserve” however aren’t at present wanted thanks to excessive vaccination charges.
The PM additionally laid out imminent plans to ditch the present curbs on worldwide journey and reopen Britain to the world.
No 10 is about to scrap the sophisticated site visitors mild system and substitute it with two easy ‘Go’ and ‘No Go’ lists.
And they’re poised to bin costly PCR assessments for the double-jabbed in favour of less expensive lateral circulation kits.
Boris has confirmed plans to let authorized powers which permit the Government to shut down enterprise premises lapse.
But he desires to renew the Coronavirus Act for an additional six months, together with the duty for constructive Brits to self-isolate.