The day after the 95-year-old monarch Queen Elizabeth tested positive for Covid, the UK’s PM Boris Johnson announces that he is lifting all the remaining Covid restrictions.
When this became public, Mr Johnson said it was a “moment of pride” as he then continued to set out the government’s long-term future plan for continuing life with the virus. This decision of his has caused great concern among public health specialists and opposition parties.
This arrangement now means that the legal requirement to self-isolate for up to ten days after testing positive for Covid has been shortened by a month earlier than originally planned.
The “living with Covid” plan has sparked great concern amongst the UK, causing physicians to express their worrying thoughts and for the Labour Party to question the decision to get rid of free lateral flow tests.
Johnson said that this verdict to “live with Covid” will mark a “moment of pride after one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history.”
He continued to say: “The pandemic is not over but thanks to the incredible vaccine rollout, we are not one step closer towards a return to normality and finally giving people back their freedom while continuing to protect ourselves and others.”
The prime minister also confirmed that by April 1, 2022, the free mass testing will stop.
A teen from the Scottish Borders is now feeling concerned for future consequences this decision will bring.
They said: “I feel that removing restrictions now will only lead to heavier restrictions being replaced in the future.”
Johnson strongly believes that the government had “got the big things right” in dealing with the pandemic.
“Our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally,” he told the MPs, whilst also cautioning that there still remains “significant pressures” on the NHS.
In saying that, cases have spiked in England already and in the last seven days, 322,917 people have tested positive. This is a 39.2% increase.
Approximately 300 scientists and medics sent in a letter to the government questioning the scientific basis for the government’s decision to end free testing surveillance surveys and legal isolation of Covid cases.
The government’s scientific advisors have been requested to give clarity on the advice underpinning their decisions by the letter’s signatories.
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies have responded by claiming that there is an abundant amount of uncertainty about how the pandemic will now affect the UK.
Labour’s health spokesman Wes Streeting posted on Twitter: “Boris Johnson is declaring victory before the war is over, in an attempt to distract from the police knocking at his door.”
Hayes and Harlington MP, John McDonnell, said that this was a “pitiful stunt” and was “an act to distract people” from the partygate accusations.
Meanwhile, the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford described Johnson’s decision to end the free Covid testing program as “premature and reckless”.
He further said: “Any decision to effectively turn off the tap on our National Testing Programme with no future plans in place to reactivate it would put people at risk. This is not acceptable.”
The World Health Organisation’s public health specialists and infectious disease epidemiologists have urged policymakers to resist an “all or nothing” approach to public health restrictions.
“We do recognise this desire to open up, this desire to go back to normal. But if that desire to go back to completely normal in that sense is going to sustain this pandemic going forward for much longer than it needs to be then we really need to think about that”, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.
“If we get hit with another variant and we’ve already abandoned all measures, it is going to be really hard to put anything back in place”, he added.
The WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said that some countries were in a better position than Britain to lift the measures because they have high levels of vaccination coverage and population immunity.
She said: “But, in many countries, it is ill-advised to lift everything all at once.”
“We just need to have countries not do this all-or-nothing approach because it is confusing and I don’t blame anyone out there that is confused”, she continued to say.