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Good morning. Boris Johnson may have thought on Monday, when he announced the three-tier alert system for England, that he had resolved coronavirus policy – at least for the next week or two – but 48 hours later he is under intense pressure to shift again, and implement a “circuit breaker” short lockdown. Partly that’s because it emerged late on Monday night that Sage, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, was in favour, partly that’s because Labour embraced the idea yesterday, and this morning an unpublished paper by Sage scientists is putting numbers on the lives that might be at risk if Johnson persists with his current policy.
As the Times (paywall) reports:
A paper by members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) … shows that a two-week full lockdown, with stay-at-home orders and school closures, from October 24 could reduce deaths for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100. Hospital admissions could be reduced from 132,400 to 66,500.
A limited lockdown, with schools and shops open but hospitality venues closed, could cut deaths to 15,600 …
The paper by Graham Medley, chairman of Sage’s SPI-M modelling group, and the SPI-M members Matt Keeling, Louise Dyson, Michael Tildesley and Edward Hill, models the effect of different restrictions at different times.
They say that “the optimal time for a break is always now; there are no good epidemiological reasons to delay the break”, although they add that it could also be applied during the Christmas holidays or spring half-term.
Johnson is in the Commons later for PMQs, so we will get his reaction then.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, gives evidence to the Commons culture committee.
10.30am: The Northern Ireland assembly is meeting to hear details of new partial lockdown plans for the region.
10.35am: Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, address a virtual convention of the travel organisation Abta.
11am: The OECD publishes its economic survey of the UK.
11.15am: Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, gives evidence to a Lords committee on the internal market bill.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.
12.15pm: The Scottish government is due to hold its regular coronavirus briefing.
Around 12.45pm: MPs begin two debates on Labour motions relating to Covid economic support and contact tracing.
1.30pm: Downing Street is due to hold its lobby briefing.
At some point today ministers are also meeting to discuss the possibility of Greater Manchester being moved up to tougher tier 3 restrictions – the very high alert level.
And Johnson is also due to hold talks with Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, ahead of the EU summit starting tomorrow.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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Source: The Guardian
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