Scientists urge Johnson to apply restrictions to avoid lockdown

A patient is taken by ambulance to the Royal London Hospital in London. / EFE

Bulgaria warns that it is also on the brink of a new closure as the EU urges governments to speed up vaccination

Scientific advisers to the British Government on Friday urged Boris Johnson and his ministers to launch an immediate plan to contain the coronavirus under the warning that the current passivity of the cabinet may soon lead to a forced application of “stricter measures, disruptive and long-lasting ”. The experts do not expressly cite a quarantine, but their description is eloquent. In fact, they highlight that the United Kingdom is already touching the epidemiological context that caused the third confinement of its population last January.

The council appeals to immediately remove the so-called ‘plan B’ from the drawer. Announced last Wednesday by the Minister of Health, Sajid Javid, as the resource to use in the face of an “unsustainable” risk, it consists of imposing flexible limitations, including the use of masks in certain spaces, the return to teleworking in those companies where it is contact between workers and reintroduction of the vaccination passport are inevitable.

The advisers are perplexed by the apparent wall that Johnson has erected in the face of the epidemic and that allows him to remain rooted in the repeal of the restrictions despite the rising data of infections and the demands to put a stop to them on the part of doctors, the opposition politics and numerous social organizations. The prime minister is confident in antivirals and that the advancement of immunization, the third dose planned for people over 50 years of age and the increasingly better clinical treatments will break the covid-19.

In the meantime, the UK is still settled in the nightmare. This Friday, 49,200 new patients and a hundred deaths were reported, which places the British Isles and Russia at the forefront of the pandemic in Europe. Citizens are also facing a more contagious subvariant of the Delta strain that now accounts for 10% of the attendances and to which other countries are beginning to react rigorously. In the last twenty-four hours, Morocco has banned flights with the United Kingdom and will only allow vaccinated British people to enter its territory, but always through third countries. In the afternoon, hundreds of tourists hastily ended their holidays and returned to London.

In spite of everything, Johnson, who visited a “vaccinodrome” east of the capital, reiterated that “absolutely nothing indicates” that a lockdown is necessary. The ‘premier’ added that all the indicators are “in line” with the forecasts of his cabinet. Some of his detractors attribute a return to the postulates that he tried to put into practice at the beginning of the pandemic and that he left overwhelmed by the severity acquired in a matter of weeks by the health crisis.

Although it is possible to think that the United Kingdom is about to enter the wheel of the viral waves again, the advisers consider that its morbidity and effects on hospitals will be lower than the previous episode in January thanks to the serums. Even so, this forecast is still a kind of quicksand. The British began to be vaccinated before the rest of Europeans and it is possible that, by winter, immunity has been reduced in a sector of the population.

Fear of winter

Nor is it known for sure, never better said, to what extent hospitals will be doomed to collapse when the coronavirus, flu and colds coincide in the coming months; a thesis shared by the German government and the Robert Koch Institute, whose spokesman admits that “it is expected that the number of cases will accelerate this autumn and winter.” The German Executive has been appreciating an increase in the transmission of covid-19 in Germany since last month. The seven-day rate stands at 95.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, when last week it did not exceed 68.7.

Translated into healthcare indices, the RKI registered 19,572 new patients yesterday –this figure had not been reached since May– and 116 deaths had to be regretted. “We observe a hardening of the situation at all (age) levels, which also affects intensive care units,” warned the spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Oliver Ewald, at a press conference in Berlin.

Meanwhile, in Brussels they looked at the countries of the East. The European Commission sent a message to its leaders to accelerate vaccination, aware that the region could become a viral bomb. Immunization is long overdue, ranging from 20% to 30% due to poor infrastructure and widespread social reluctance to antivirals. The Union considers it essential to improve these quotas in order to control the pandemic, prevent it from spreading across the continent and cut off new mutations. The UK subvariant has already been tested in thirty countries in Europe and North America; the last, Portugal, with a dozen cases.

The EU acknowledges that it follows “very closely” the spread of the epidemic, catastrophic in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania. Bulgaria also alerted the population on Friday of the possibility of a new general confinement shortly if citizens do not use the health pass to enter closed premises such as shops and restaurants. The Balkan country registers almost 5,000 infections a day. Only two out of ten Bulgarians have been vaccinated.

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