Keir Starmer today opposed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to impose a two-week state lockdown on expert advice.
The Guardian reported that in questioning the burning prime minister as the coronavirus infection rate continued to rise across the UK, the Labor leader accused Johnson of ignoring top scientific advisors and giving up science.
The PM counterattacked yesterday by pointing out that Starmer called for a circuit breaker lockout but did not appear in the Commons vote for imposing more stringent measures on a regional basis.
In response to Starmers’ criticism during the Commons conflict, Johnson argued that his new three-tier system for regional closure would avoid the misery of state closure.
But after Starmer argues that regional approaches aren’t going well enough, the prime minister will not rule out imposing circuit breakers if these measures don’t work, The Telegraph says.
According to a document released earlier this week by the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergency Sage (Sage), Johnson was warned in September that without an immediate two-week lockdown, the country faced a very large pandemic and had fatal consequences.
Today, Starmer told Johnson that the nation’s rising coronavirus incidence and hospitalization are the cost of rejecting Sage advice.
In response, the prime minister accused his rival of a U-turn after the Labor leader backed up a three-phase strategy on Monday before calling for a circuit break last night after the Sage document was released.
Johnson told lawmakers: Of course I don’t rule out anything when it comes to fighting viruses, but we will do this with a local approach that can contain viruses and, if implemented properly, contain them.
Region or country?
A new wave of Covid infections makes further restrictions inevitable. But what’s left is how and when the more stringent regulations come into effect.
Northern Ireland has imposed a four-week circuit breaker shutdown today, and pubs and restaurants must close on Fridays, but chapels and gyms remain open.
In announcing the move, First Deputy Minister Alin Foster said the semiannual vacation will be extended and will now last from October 19th to 30th, Sky News reported.
Foster added that we don’t take this step lightly and that small actions can make a big and important contribution to Covid-19 management.
Wales will follow Northern Ireland, and First Secretary Mark Drake Ford told Sky News Kay Burley that the ministers are planning to shut down circuit breakers very seriously. He said he wants to take action now to prevent the worst from happening.
Drake Ford did not set a date for further restrictions, but the BBC reported that it urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to convene a cobra meeting to allow all four countries in the UK to discuss the move.
Welsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said earlier today that a decision will be made this week on whether to introduce a full blockade.
Meanwhile, Johnson is targeting areas affected by Covid and is considering shutting down a series of local circuit breakers to avoid further national action, The Sun reported. It is unclear how this differs from the UK’s local regulatory patchwork being replaced by a three-tier system.
At the end of October, the BBC’s new research paper that the use of a two-week circuit breaker could cut deaths in the UK in half from now to the end of the year will increase pressure on Johnson to take drastic action.
The analysis by the team at Warwick University and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has not been reviewed by scientists. But researchers believe the death toll could be reduced by 29% to 49% depending on the trajectory of the epidemic, says James Gallagher, BBC’s Health and Science correspondent.
Forecasts show that the number of lives rescued from now to early 2021 ranges from 80 to 80 with the slow spread of the UK outbreak and the introduction of minor restrictions and from 106,000 to 106,000 if the infection spreads rapidly and severe restrictions are needed.
Scientists in the report emphasize that the highest number is the worst-case scenario, but research co-author Dr Michael Tildesley argues that overall results are very common sense.
The point is that we can get a similar reduction in hospital admissions and mortality rates. We are entering a period of time knowing that the NHS is facing high demands, so the benefit is to protect the NHS from hospitalization in Covid cases.
More than half of those surveyed by YouGov on Tuesday (54%) said they should have introduced state closures when the government was advised to do so in September. Only 28% of 4,222 adults supported Downing Street’s decision.
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