Calls for a faster lifting of lockdown after Covid alert level drops

Calls for a faster lifting of lockdown after Covid alert level drops

February 26, 2021

Get a move on, Boris! Calls for a faster lifting of the lockdown after Covid alert level drops as threat to NHS recedes… but Prime Minister insists he’s sticking to his roadmap

  • Covid threat level was raised in January when PM put England in lockdown three
  • The seven-day average for daily deaths is now 376, down from 844 on January 4
  • The seven-day average for infections is also down to just 10,188 from 57,234

The Covid alert level has been lowered across the UK after experts said the NHS is no longer at risk of being overwhelmed.

The move from Level Five to Level Four comes as infections, hospital admissions and deaths continue to fall.

It triggered calls for a faster lifting of lockdown measures but Boris Johnson refused to budge saying: ‘We’re sticking to our plan.’

Boris Johnson yesterday said he will ‘continue to look at the data’ but refused to move his roadmap to freedom forward. He is seen above visiting a school in Lancaster

The threat level was raised on January 4 when the Prime Minister plunged the country into its third lockdown amid fears the NHS would be swamped within 21 days.

The UK’s chief medical officers and NHS England’s medical director lowered it yesterday because the number of Covid patients is ‘consistently declining’. They took the decision following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.

They said health services across the four nations ‘remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital’, but thanks to the efforts of the public, numbers are now ‘consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded’.

Level Five means there is a ‘material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed’ and Four means a Covid epidemic is in ‘general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially’.

The UK’s chief medical officers and NHS England’s medical director lowered it yesterday because the number of Covid patients is ‘consistently declining’. A chart showing Britain’s vaccination rollout is seen above

The seven-day average for daily deaths is now 376, down from 844 on January 4 and a peak of 1,280. The seven-day average for infections is also down to 10,188 from 57,234 when Level Five was declared and a peak of 59,660.

And the number of Covid patients in hospital has fallen over the same period from a seven-day average of 29,846 to 17,498, with a high of 38,428.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: ‘The return to normality will be a slow process and increasing your number of contacts now could cost lives. It is vital that you continue to follow the rules and stay home, it will save lives.’

The move from Level Five to Level Four comes as infections, hospital admissions and deaths continue to fall

Coronavirus case rates are continuing to fall among all age groups in England, the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England shows. Rates have also fallen in all regions except Yorkshire and the Humber.

Mr Johnson yesterday said he will ‘continue to look at the data’ but refused to move his roadmap to freedom forward. 

Asked about ‘wiggle room’, he said: ‘We’re sticking to our plan, obviously we will continue to look at data but the data currently still shows, as you know, that the incidence of the disease sadly remains high. I’m afraid the numbers of people in hospital are still not far below the peak that they were in April last year.’

However Andrew Bridgen, Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, called for a speedier exit from lockdown. 

He said: ‘The lowering of the alert level is fantastic news and a clear sign things are moving in the right direction. If infections, hospitalisations and deaths continue to fall once schools go back the Government really must accelerate its plans to end lockdown. It has done a brilliant job with the vaccine rollout and it’s time for the hard-pressed British public and businesses to share in that success.

‘Lockdown must be ended as soon as it is safe to do so and not a minute longer.’

Theresa Villiers, Tory MP for Chipping Barnet, said: ‘It is great news that the Covid risk level is coming down. It shows that the UK’s incredible vaccination programme is helping us get the upper hand in the battle with the virus.

‘This is confirmation that we’re going to be heading out of lockdown. It will still take time but the end is in sight.’

And Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, said: ‘Today’s news is extremely positive and shows that we are on track to exit lockdown swiftly, safely and sustainably.

‘We hope that if these trends continue it will be possible for all UK nations to confirm the dates for unlocking the economy and crucially to maintain 21 June as a firm end date for the ending of all legal limits and restrictions on social contact so we can get back to normality.’ 

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