Dr David Nabarro told Radio 4’s Today programme the “pandemic is advancing ferociously around the world” and that we haven’t “got through the worst of it” despite the vaccine rollout.
He said: “Yes, relax, but don’t have these mixed messages about what’s going on. This dangerous virus hasn’t gone away, it’s variants are coming back and are threatening those who have already been vaccinated – we have to take it seriously.”
“It’s irresponsible – and frankly perilous – that the Government has decided to press ahead with plans to lift the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on July 19,” Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA council chair, said.
Covid anxiety ‘will take time to subside’ – expert
It will take people “some time” to get over the fear and anxiety that has arisen as a result of the pandemic, a sociology expert has said.
Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said the concerns which have arisen over the last 15 months would take time to subside as people get used to living with Covid-19 as an infection which circulates in society.
And he said that the focus on masks and face coverings “signal of the levels of fear”.
Prof Dingwall said that it was time for the Government to “make a much more conscious shift towards positive messaging” around coronavirus.
He told Sky News: “I think the situation that we’re dealing with now is really more of a psychological one than an epidemiological one.”
Owners of Pryzm nightclubs say they won’t ask for vaccine passports after July 19
Nightclub bosses in charge of 42 venues around the country have said they won’t ask for vaccine passports after restrictions end on July 19, reports Metro.
REKOM UK, which owns chains Pryzm, Bar&Beyond and Fiction among other clubs, will also not require a negative Covid test to enter.
Venues have been urgeed by the government to use the NHS Covid Pass for proof customers have been double jabbed or recently tested negative.
Ending legal requirement for masks could jeopardise the benefits – adviser
Evidence suggests mask-wearing helps in the fight against coronavirus but it “probably won’t do any good” when the Government ends the legal requirement, a key scientific adviser has said.
Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said high levels of use need to be maintained in order to have an impact.
His comments came as Labour reiterated demands for Boris Johnson not to scrap the compulsory use of masks when he ends most of England’s Covid-19 restrictions on Monday.
The Prime Minister has urged people instead to exercise “personal responsibility” in continuing to wear masks in “crowded and enclosed spaces”.
Prof Medley, who chairs the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said wearing a mask is reasonable in terms of economic impact and freedom.
“I personally will wear a mask to protect other people,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“I think it’s quite a reasonable thing to do. It doesn’t have a huge imposition in terms of economic impact or in terms of freedom, and I think there is evidence to suggest it does good, but only if everybody does it.
“So I think that, without the mandation, then we end up with a situation where even if the majority of people, let’s say 70% of people wear a mask, will that actually do any good because of the 30% who don’t? I think that is something which still needs to be determined and discussed.
“I understand the Government’s reluctance to actually mandate it. On the other hand, if it’s not mandated it probably won’t do any good.”
A total of 109 deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending July 2 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – up 10% on the previous week.
It is the highest total since 151 deaths in the week to May 14.
Sturgeon to announce whether coronavirus restrictions will be eased
Nicola Sturgeon is to announce whether Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions can be eased as planned on Monday.
The First Minister has said she hopes to move the whole country to Level 0 from July 19, depending on the latest case numbers, hospital admissions and the vaccination rollout.
Level 0 would reduce the two-metre distancing rule to one metre in indoor public spaces.
Indoor gathering restrictions would be further lifted to allow up to eight people from up to three households to meet.
The 11pm closure time for pubs operating indoors will also be scrapped, with local licensing conditions applying instead.
Hunt to continue wearing masks in ‘crowded public places’
Asked whether he will wearing a face mask after July 19, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt told LBC: “Well, I’m going to do what my leader, Boris Johnson, said yesterday in that I will be wearing them in crowded public places.
“I understand that there is a moment in a pandemic where, if the deaths from Covid are projected to be less than, for example, a bad flu year, you move to encouraging people (and) recommending, rather than compulsion.
“But you do have to be prepared to change your mind if things take a turn for the worse – but we don’t yet know which way this one is going to go.”
Hospital admissions ‘likely’ to reach 1,000-2,000 a day
Sage member Professor Graham Medley said that between 1-2,000 hospital admissions a day are “likely” due to a wave in coronavirus infections as restrictions ease.
The chairman of the Sage modelling subgroup Spi-M told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there is uncertainty in the predictions because people’s behaviour after July 19 is “unknowable”.
“It’s likely that we will get between 1-2,000 hospitalisations a day,” he said.
It is “too early to be talking about massive relaxation or freedom” – WHO
A World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19 has said it is “too early to be talking about massive relaxation or freedom” despite the UK’s rollout of vaccines.
Dr David Nabarro told Radio 4’s Today programme the “pandemic is advancing ferociously around the world” and that “I don’t think we’ve anywhere near got through the worst of it”.
Asked about the Government’s switch to personal responsibility, he said: “All this doesn’t quite fit with the position that was taken by Britain, along with other nations, some months ago when there was a real effort to try to prevent large numbers of people getting the disease, partly because of the risk of death and partly because of the recognition of the risk of long Covid.
“It’s necessary to be unequivocal on this particular challenge. What does urging caution mean? It’s important that everybody knows the best possible advice on how to prevent themselves being infected.
“I accept that vaccination has changed the nature of the equation in the UK but quite honestly from any point of view it’s too early to be talking about massive relaxation or freedom when the outbreak curve is on such a sharp ascent.
“Yes, relax, but don’t have these mixed messages about what’s going on. This dangerous virus hasn’t gone away, it’s variants are coming back and are threatening those who have already been vaccinated – we have to take it seriously.”
“Freedom day” will be “fear day” for some people, including those who are clinically vulnerable, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said.
He believes the test of whether to ease coronavirus restrictions needs to be seen through the eyes of 3.8 million people who are most at risk from infection because they classed as extremely clinically vulnerable.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The test is this: is expecting and recommending people to wear face masks enough to give those people the confidence that they can go out and about on public transport safely? I don’t think it is and that is why one person’s freedom day is another person’s fear day.
“Many people will feel fearful next week.
He said that “one person’s choice affects another person’s physical and mental health”.
More than 900,000 people in France rush for COVID vaccine as tougher measures near
More than 900,000 people in France rushed to set up appointments to get vaccinated on Monday night after the president warned that people would see curbs imposed on them if they did not have a health pass that covered a vaccine or negative Covid test.
Unveiling sweeping measures to combat a surge in infections, Emmanuel Macron said vaccination would not be compulsory for the general public for now but stressed that restrictions would focus on those who are not vaccinated.
The president said health workers had to get vaccinated by September 15 or face consequences.
Stanislas Niox-Chateau, who heads Doctolib, one of the country’s biggest online websites used to book vaccine appointments, told RMC radio there were record numbers seeking vaccines after the president’s announcement.
“There were 7.5 million connections on Doctolib in a few minutes. More than 900,000 French people made their vaccination appointment yesterday, which is twice the last record which dated from May 11,” Niox-Chateau said.
Macron said on Monday that a health pass required to attend large-scale events would now be used much more widely, including to enter restaurants, cinemas and theatres.