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Downing Street is resisting intense pressure to increase coronavirus restrictions immediately, as the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that a failure to close schools and ban all between-household mixing would cost many lives.
Boris Johnson said on Monday there was “no question” England would need tough rules, with one option expected to be moving areas still under tier 3 rules into the new, highest level of tier 4.
But Johnson said only that the changes would come “in due course”. No announcement was expected on Monday, with Downing Street not scheduled to hold a press conference later in the day, and officials playing down the chances of immediate change.
Hunt, who now chairs the Commons health committee, said this was a mistake, and that moves to close schools and to ban all household mixing must happen “right away”.
“I know all these things will be under consideration with decisions potentially imminent,” Hunt said in a Twitter thread. “My point is, in the face of exponential growth, even waiting an extra day causes many avoidable deaths so these plans must now be urgently accelerated.”
The new measures would only need to be in place for around 12 weeks, until enough people had been vaccinated against coronavirus, Hunt said, adding: “So there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
He wrote: “To those arguing winter is always like this in the NHS: you are wrong. I faced four serious winter crises as health sec and the situation now is off-the-scale worse than any of those.
“It’s true that we often had to cancel elective care in Jan to protect emergency care but that too is under severe pressure with record trolley waits for the very sickest patients Even more worryingly fewer heart attack patients appear to be presenting in ICUs, perhaps because they are not dialling 999 when they need to.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: No 10 resists pressure to step up England Covid-19 lockdown | Politics