Johnson Sets Out England’s Winter Covid Plan

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The government could also consider asking people to work from home again if necessary, but a final decision on this would be made at the time, dependent on the latest data – recognising the extra disruption this causes to individuals and businesses, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday set out the government’s plan to manage Covid-19 throughout autumn and winter.

The plans include booster jabs for millions – but hold in reserve measures like vaccine passports for certain settings, the BBC reported.

“Plan A” is designed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, and promotes vaccines and testing. “Plan B”, to be used if the NHS is coming under “unsustainable pressure”, includes measures such as face masks.

Under Plan A of the autumn and winter plan, announced by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, ministers will: encourage the unvaccinated to be jabbed; offer vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds; begin a booster jab programme for millions, it was reported.

Meanwhile, owing to the success of the vaccination programme, the data continues to show the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths has weakened significantly, the government has announced.

In England, the number of hospital admissions with Covid has remained relatively stable over the last month. And although deaths increased at the beginning of the summer, they have remained far below the levels in either of the previous waves.

Downing Street said, over autumn and winter, the government will aim to sustain this progress through “building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions, identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission, supporting the NHS and social care, advising people on how to protect themselves and others, pursuing an international approach.

It added that vaccines will continue to be the first line of defence.

All those who were vaccinated during Phase 1 of the vaccine programme (priority groups 1 to 9) will be offered booster jabs from this month – to boost immunity amongst the most vulnerable groups during winter.

The Test, Trace and Isolate programme will continue its work, with symptomatic PCR testing continuing throughout the autumn and winter.

Lateral flow tests will also remain free of charge but at a later stage, as government’s response to the virus changes, this will end and individuals and businesses will be expected to bear the cost. The government has ensured it will engage widely on this before any changes are made.

The legal obligation to self-isolate for those who have tested positive and their unvaccinated contacts will continue, and the financial support payment for those self-isolating on certain benefits will continue in its current format until the end of March.

As the PM also set out, autumn and winter could pose renewed challenges and it is difficult to predict the path of the virus with certainty.

Plan B would include: introducing mandatory vaccine only Covid status certification in certain, riskier settings, legally mandating face coverings in certain settings, such as public transport and shops, communicating clearly and urgently to the public if the risk level increases.

The government could also consider asking people to work from home again if necessary, but a final decision on this would be made at the time, dependent on the latest data – recognising the extra disruption this causes to individuals and businesses.

Ministers would only decide to implement these measures if necessary, and if a range of metrics and indicators mean the NHS is at risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Plan B recognises the success of our vaccination programme – meaning smaller interventions which are far less disruptive can have a much bigger impact on reducing the spread.

The Prime Minister pledged he is committed to taking whatever action is necessary to protect the NHS, but stressed his belief that the combined efforts of the public and the vaccination programme mean it can avoid plan B and protect our freedoms in the coming months.

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