In the face of a new, and possibly more contagious, type of Coronavirus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is implementing lockdown measures in London and throughout southeast England that include a ban on holiday gatherings outside of immediate homes.
After months of the Johnson administration’s patchy response to the pandemic – and after a week of assurances that Christmas celebrations with up to three separate families – his critics cite this latest response as further evidence of shaky leadership amid a crisis that has infected nearly two million Britons with the Covid virus – 19, and killed more than 67,000.
Johnson announced the measures on Saturday, following an emergency cabinet meeting during which top government officials discussed a new strain of the Coronavirus, which the prime minister said was 70 percent more transmissible than previous versions. Some Experts warned Further study needs to be done to establish whether the mutation is actually more transmissible.
“When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our approach to defense,” Johnson said. “We have to act on the information the way we have, because this is now spreading very quickly.”
Advertise after a week in it Covid-19 infection rates in London have nearly doubledMore than, government officials said 60 percent of cases In the city due to the new strain, known as VUI-20 2012/01.
The nation’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said this strain is not believed to be more deadly than the previous species.
“There is no current evidence to suggest that the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” Whitty said.
The latest lockdown is the strictest in the country since March, and it will go into effect on Sunday. It will be reviewed again on December 30, Johnson said on Saturday, in an effort to stem the spread of the new strain outside the southeastern region of England and its center in London.
The new restrictions impose a ban on non-essential travel – defined as travel for work, education, or health care – in the region. Non-essential stores and businesses, including gyms, salons and cinemas, have been ordered to close. The area was placed in the newly created 4 level in Risk System in England, With designated Level 1 areas that are places where Covid-19 is most under control.
For weeks, Johnson has struggled to balance a robust public health response to the rapidly increasing number of cases with the pressure not to do more damage to the economy. As the Christmas break approaches, he vows to ease restrictions to allow five days of faint joy.
Last week he said, “I wish yourself a very merry Christmas, but this year, unfortunately, I prefer a very small birthday.”
The British Medical Journal The Health Services Journal I published a joint editorial this week, Criticizing the government’s response so far, saying that allowing even small gatherings on holidays could lead to a wave of new infections that would overwhelm the National Health Service.
“The government was very slow to impose restrictions in the spring and again in the fall. It should now reverse its reckless decision to allow domestic mixing,” the editorial said.
Now, however, Johnson appears to have taken this advice, to some extent: areas outside of the Level 4 zone will be allowed for gatherings at Christmas – although it’s for one-day, rather than the multi-day gatherings that Johnson recently promised.
Overall, he said, the lockdown is part of an effort to slow the spread and flatten the curve, in order to prevent pressure on hospitals.
“Without action, the evidence indicates that infections will spike, hospitals will become overcrowded and thousands more will lose their lives,” Johnson said on Saturday.
Johnson has been criticized for acting too slowly during the pandemic
Other countries, including Italy, Austria and Germany, have also tightened restrictions in response to the holiday season. In France, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close and curfews; On Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron announced that he was infected with the virus.
However, it is noted that the United States – which has one of the worst outbreaks of the Coronavirus in the world – has not tightened restrictions nationally. Johnson’s decision received opposition from his US counterpart, President Donald Trump, on Saturday afternoon, as Trump wrote on Twitter, “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself!”
Trump has vehemently opposed the lockdown in the United States, ceding decisions about efforts to control spread to leaders nationwide. The US response has been random at best, and nearly 300,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus this year. Both the UK and the US are in the top 10 countries for the per capita death rate from Covid-19.
Johnson’s opponent in Parliament, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, also criticized the lockdown, but on the grounds that Johnson’s rapid changes in policy were confusing.
“I think the British public deserves a more decisive leadership than that,” he said.
Such as Joan Silbrner has written about VoxCovid-19 cases have increased steadily across the UK since September. Johnson’s critics, including Starmer, accused the prime minister of a series of missteps that led to the current crisis in the country.
Among these errors, Silberner describes the mishandling of personal protective equipment distribution, implementation of testing programs and contract tracking early in the pandemic. NHS employees faced an acute shortage of masks and other equipment in the spring, and hundreds of healthcare workers died. Testing efforts failed in the spring, while the contact tracing app faced challenges in the summer, and again during a second launch attempt in September.
Silberner also described an attempt to prioritize eating personally during the summer, by subsidizing meals in August, a move that public health officials have largely condemned.
“In short, it’s insane,” said Lawrence Justin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University about food subsidies. “In the midst of an epidemic, it is actually quite the opposite of what the public health evidence indicates.”
Despite these pitfalls, Silberner describes a government that does not appear to be able to learn from its mistakes. This appears to be happening now in Johnson’s endorsement of family visits over the Christmas holidays.
People were more likely to want some semblance of tradition to which they are accustomed. But Johnson’s efforts to preserve tradition failed because of choices made weeks ago – and now the UK has to face drastic measures as the government struggles to deal with the spike in cases.