Former Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt warns that schools must be closed urgently to save lives.
As former health secretary Jeremy Hunt cautioned that failure to close schools and ban all inter-household mixing would cost many lives, Downing Street is resisting intense pressure to urgently raise coronavirus restrictions.
Boris Johnson said that there was “no question” on Monday that England needed tough rules, with one choice being to transfer areas to the new, highest Tier 4 still under Tier 3 rules.
But Johnson said only that “in due course.” the changes will come. No announcement was planned on Monday, as Downing Street refused to hold a press conference later in the day and the chances of an imminent change were reduced by officials.
Hunt, who now chairs the health committee of the House of Commons, said it was a mistake and that action to close schools and ban all mixtures of households needed to happen “immediately.”
“I know all these things are under consideration and decisions may be imminent,”I know all these things are under consideration and decisions may be imminent. “My point is that given the exponential growth, even waiting an extra day will cause many preventable deaths, so these plans need to be expedited urgently now.”
The new steps just need to be in effect for approximately 12 weeks before enough people have been vaccinated against coronavirus, Hunt said, adding, “So there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
“He wrote, “It is always like this for those who argue the winter in the NHS: you are incorrect.
As health secretary, I have endured four serious winter crises, and the current situation is much worse than any of those crises.
It is true that in order to protect urgent care, we have also had to postpone elective services in January, but this is also under extreme strain with record waiting times for the sickest patients.
As individuals stayed away from hospitals and GPs, Hunt said, an overstretched NHS may also suggest more potentially preventable cancer deaths. “The No. 1 lesson is that countries that act early and decisively save lives and get their economies back on track faster,” he said.
“So we can’t afford to wait: All schools should be closed, international travel stopped, household mixing curtailed, and the tier system revised so that the highest tier really lowers infection rates (as in the first lockdown).”
It was, Hunt added, “our moral duty” to ensure that the first to receive the Covid vaccine were frontline NHS staff.
Asked why the scale of increasing Covid infections and the resulting rise in hospital admissions were not addressed immediately, Downing Street said the government was waiting to assess the effect of the current coronavirus, with most of England moving to Stage 4 on New Year’s Eve.
“We’ve been waiting to see the impact of the Stage 4 measures,” Johnson’s spokesman said.
It’s all a bit vague right now.
I’ve always said that we’re going to continue looking at the latest facts and results, and that’s what our decisions are focused on.
“We’ve always said we would take the necessary measures to reduce the spread of the virus, and we will continue to do that.”