UK

Boris Johnson: Jabs have ‘broken link’ between infections and deaths

Boris Johnson today said it is ‘ever clearer’ that the UK’s vaccination drive has ‘broken the link’ between coronavirus infections and deaths as he insisted the nation is now in the ‘final furlong’ of lockdown

The Prime Minister conceded there has been a significant surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks but he said that is ‘not translating into a big increase in serious illness and death’. 

Mr Johnson said he believes the UK’s vaccine rollout has ‘broken that link between infection and mortality and that is an amazing thing’.

The final stage of the PM’s lockdown exit roadmap is due to take place on July 19, with all remaining curbs potentially being lifted. 

Mr Johnson would not be drawn on what the country will look like after ‘freedom day’ but he said he will be publishing a plan setting it out ‘in the course of the next few days’. 

He also said ‘there may be some things we have to do and some extra precautions that we have to take’ in a hint that some rules could remain in place. 

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson also urged parents, pupils and Tory MPs to be ‘patient’ over calls to end self-isolation for entire school ‘bubbles’ when lockdown restrictions in England are lifted later this month. 

Former Tory party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith is among 48 MPs to have signed a letter to the Prime Minister warning that the current policy is ‘disproportionate’ and ‘unsustainable’.

Boris Johnson today said it is ‘ever clearer’ that the UK’s vaccination drive has ‘broken the link’ between coronavirus infections and deaths as he insisted the nation is now in the ‘final furlong’ of lockdown

No face masks rule from July 19: Mouth guards will become voluntary as Covid curbs are axed 

Face masks are set to be made voluntary under plans to end most coronavirus restrictions on July 19.

Boris Johnson is pushing for the lifting of mask laws in almost all settings to help return life to ‘as near normal as possible’.

Key social distancing measures, including the one-metre rule, the rule of six and the 30-person limit on the size of outdoor gatherings, are also set to be scrapped on the new ‘Freedom Day’.

The Mail revealed today that ministers have shelved plans to require mass events such as festivals to use Covid passports to control entry.

And last night it emerged that even nightclubs may be allowed to reopen on July 19 without the need to test customers at the door, as part of a new ‘freedom plan’ that could be published by the Prime Minister as soon as next week.

The proposals reflect growing confidence in Government that the vaccination rollout has severely weakened the link between infections, and hospitalisations and deaths.

The latest Government statistics published yesterday showed there had been a further 26,068 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK. 

That figure represented the highest daily reported number since January 29.

The Government said a further 14 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 128,140. 

Speaking on a visit to a Nissan car factory in Sunderland, Mr Johnson said the statistics demonstrated the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines. 

He said: ‘I know that people are impatient for us to open up faster and of course I want to do that.

‘But what I would say to people is we are now in the final furlong, I really believe.

‘We have to look very carefully at the data and at the moment what we are certainly seeing is a big increase in cases – 26,000 as you will have seen.

‘But that is not translating into a big increase in serious illness and death.

‘So, it looks ever clearer that we have broken, the vaccination programme, the speed of that vaccine rollout, has broken that link between infection and mortality and that is an amazing thing.

‘That gives us the scope we think on the 19th to go ahead, cautiously, irreversibly, to go ahead.’

Mr Johnson was asked whether the final easing of rules will include getting rid of face masks and social distancing. 

He replied: ‘I know how impatient people are to get back to total normality as indeed am I and we will be setting out, I will be setting out in the course of the next few days what step four will look like exactly.

‘But I think I have said it before, we will be wanting to go back to a world that is as close to the status quo, ante Covid as possible.

‘Try to get back to life as close to it was before Covid but there may be some things we have to do and some extra precautions that we have to take, but I will be setting all of that out.’

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is under mounting pressure to act to scrap the Government’s school ‘bubbles’ policy which forces children to self-isolate if there is a positive case in their year group.  

Recent official data showed that 279,000 children in England are isolating because of possible contact with a Covid-19 case.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has suggested that school bubbles will end when classes return after the summer holidays in September.

Just one in 100 NHS beds are currently being taken up by Covid patients in England — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave. Graph shows: The percentage of all hospital beds available to the NHS being taken up by Covid patients on June 22 this year (red bars) compared to on December 14 (blue bars), the last time infections were above 20,000 and rising

Just one in 100 NHS beds are currently being taken up by Covid patients in England — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave. Graph shows: The percentage of all hospital beds available to the NHS being taken up by Covid patients on June 22 this year (red bars) compared to on December 14 (blue bars), the last time infections were above 20,000 and rising

Furlough starts to wind down as bosses have to pay 10 per cent of workers’ wages

The furlough scheme starts winding down today as employers are forced to shoulder 10 per cent of workers’ wages.

Businesses called for it to continue as thousands of companies with 1.5million employees will be affected.

One study suggests older people face a higher risk of unemployment as the scheme – which has cost around £66million – is phased out.

The Resolution Foundation said more than one in four workers aged 55-64 furloughed in the recent lockdown remained so in May despite easing measures.

Meanwhile Labour called for the Government to delay the plans, saying it is set to impact nearly half a million firms.

The party said 450,000 businesses will have to pay around £225million more as a result of the plans.

But a letter from MPs to the PM said it is essential that schools ‘go back to normal’ when lockdown is lifted on July 19 even if it is ‘just for the last few days of term’.

‘This will send an important signal ahead of the autumn that the route to freedom is a ‘one-way road’ and genuinely ‘irreversible’,’ the letter said.

It said pupils have suffered ‘unnecessary and significant disruptions’ to their schooling during the pandemic in order to keep the rest of the country safe.

‘They have lost physical fitness, suffered mental health damage, and experienced catastrophic learning loss,’ it said.

‘Children need normality, security and certainty. If we are to have a hope of levelling up and building back better, we must restore children’s school lives to normal so they can recover their health, wellbeing, education and their futures.’

The Prime Minister said he understands the ‘frustration’ over whole bubbles being sent home to isolate but insisted the Public Health England review into favouring testing over isolation is still under way.

He said: ‘They haven’t concluded yet so what I want to do is just to be cautious as we go forward to that natural firebreak of the summer holidays when the risk in schools will greatly diminish and just ask people to be a little bit patient.’  

The UK has now breached 20,000 cases a day for the last three days. 

Mr Johnson said at PMQs at lunchtime yesterday that he ‘devoutly hopes’ that ‘freedom day’ will go ahead as planned on July 19 and that the vaccine rollout means ‘we have a higher wall of vaccination than virtually any other country in the world’. 

The rate of growth in hospital admissions has been falling for the last nine days, despite hospitalisations continuing to rise

The rate of growth in hospital admissions has been falling for the last nine days, despite hospitalisations continuing to rise

Millions to get THIRD Covid vaccine from September

Tens of millions of Britons could be offered a third Covid jab in as little as two months under fresh guidance issued by No10’s top advisers last night.

The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) said the booster scheme should start in September and could see 23million over-50s, vulnerable Britons and NHS and care home staff offered another dose.

Extra vaccines would be rolled out in two stages — prioritising those most at risk of Covid — and patients are expected to be offered whichever jab they were originally inoculated with. However, officials have not ruled out a potential ‘mix and match’ vaccine schedule.

It will coincide with the annual influenza inoculation programme, which health officials say will be vital this winter amid warnings of a difficult flu season. 

Britain dished out 137,991 first doses yesterday, taking the country’s total to 44.7 million — 84.9 per cent of the adult population. 

A further 150,688 second jabs were also given, meaning 32.9million (62.4 per cent) are fully vaccinated.

MailOnline analysis revealed just one in 100 NHS beds were being taken up by Covid patients in England last week — fourteen times fewer than at the start of the second wave, according to official figures. 

The latest NHS England figures show that out of the roughly 87,000 hospital beds at the health service’s disposal, fewer than 1,000 were being taken up by people suffering from coronavirus (1.1 per cent) on June 22. 

Mr Johnson has been under pressure from anti-lockdown Tory MPs to ease restrictions faster, with many adamant that the original ‘freedom day’ on June 21 should have gone ahead as planned. 

Calls for the exit from lockdown to be accelerated grew yesterday after it emerged that Chris Whitty backed the July 19 date, telling the Cabinet it should aim to ‘get as much open this summer as possible before winter’. 

The Chief Medical Officer reportedly signalled his support for lifting the remaining coronavirus curbs next month as he briefed Cabinet ministers on Monday.

Mr Whitty said the winter period is likely to be ‘much more difficult’ but sources claimed he had been ‘cautiously optimistic’.    


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