All COVID restrictions will end in next week in UK

Author: Yuvi February 20, 2022 UK to end all remaining COVID restrictions next week

The British government confirmed on Saturday that people with COVID-19 will not legally be required to self-isolate from next week, as part of a plan to “living with COVID” , which is likely to look back on testing for the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that by ending all legal restrictions brought in to stop the spread of the virus, people in Britain would “protect themselves without restricting our freedoms.”

But some scientific advisers to the government said it was a risky move that could lead to a surge in infections and undermine the country’s defenses against more dangerous strains in the future.

Mr Johnson’s Conservative government lifted most virus restrictions in January, eliminating vaccine passports for places and eliminating mask mandates in most settings apart from hospitals in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also opened up, albeit slowly.

The combination of high vaccination rates and the mild omicron variant in the UK means that easing restrictions did not lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Both are falling, although Britain still has Europe’s highest coronavirus toll after Russia, with more than 160,000 recorded deaths.

In the UK, 85% of people 12 years of age and older have received two doses of the vaccine and about two-thirds have had a third booster shot.

Now the Conservative government says it will remove “all remaining domestic COVID rules restricting public liberties” as part of “taking government intervention away from personal responsibility”.

The legal requirement to isolate for at least five days after a positive COVID-19 test will be replaced by advisory measures, and the coronavirus will be treated more like the flu as it becomes endemic. The new plan foresees vaccines and treatments to keep the virus under control, although the government said “surveillance systems and contingency measures will be retained” if necessary.

“Covid will not disappear suddenly, and we have to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms,” said Mr Johnson, who is expected to announce details of the plan in parliament on Monday .

“We have built strong protection against this virus over the past two years through vaccine rollouts, testing, new treatments and the best scientific understanding of what this virus can do,” he said.

The announcement would appease many Conservative Party lawmakers, who argue the restrictions were inefficient and disproportionate. It could also shore up Johnson’s position among party lawmakers who have been attempting to oust him over scandals, including lockdown-violating government parties during the pandemic.

But the scientists stressed that much remains unknown about the virus, and future variants that may be more severe than the currently dominant Omicron strain.

The New and Emerging Virus Threats Advisory Group, which advises the government, said last week that the idea the virus gradually gets milder is “a common misconception.” It said the minor illness associated with Omicron is “a chance event” and that future versions may be more severe or avoid current vaccines.

Pandemic modelers advising the government also warned that “sudden changes, such as the end of testing and isolation, have the potential to return to rapid epidemic growth” if people throw caution to the wind.

The scientists also cautioned against eliminating free rapid coronavirus tests, which have been distributed by millions during the pandemic. Health officials say mass testing has played a key role in slowing the spread of the virus.

Scientists are also concerned that the government may eliminate infection surveys conducted by the Office for National Statistics, which are considered invaluable because it tests people to see if they have symptoms.

“This is not the time to take risks,” said Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, an umbrella group for state-funded health officials in the UK. “We need to work in an evidence-based and incremental way.”

20 February, 2022, 9:31 pm

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