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Johnson denies England is 'heading for a summer of chaos and confusion' amid rising Delta wave

The UK Health Secretary has said that cases may reach 100,000 per day.

UK PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has defended the pace of the reopening in England as Labour’s Keir Starmer today accused him of creating “a summer of chaos and confusion” due to rising cases of Covid-19. 

Speaking yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar described the announcement that England was to lift many of its Covid-19 restrictions as “too risky” and he expressed concern about a spill over in Ireland. 

Johnson announced on Monday that from 19 July it will no longer be a legal requirement that people have to wear masks in certain settings, with other restrictions such as on the size of events also to be lifted. 

He acknowledged that there may be 50,000 cases a day by 19 July with Health Secretary Sajid Javid saying that increased infections could see daily cases numbers at double that

During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today, Starmer challenged Johnson to detail how many deaths, hospitalisations and cases of long Covid would emerge.

If infections reach that level – 100,000 per day – what does the Prime Minister expect the number of hospitalisations, deaths and the number of people with long Covid will be in that eventuality?

Johnson said in response that “we’re seeing a wave of cases because of the Delta variant” but that “scientists are also absolutely clear that we have severed the link between infection and serious disease and death”.

“Currently there are only a 30th of the deaths that we were seeing at an equivalent position in previous waves of this pandemic,” he said.

Masks

Starmer said it was “ridiculous” that masks would not be mandatory in confined spaces like on the London Underground.  

Instead, Johnson has asked the public to make a personal judgement on when it is appropriate for masks to be used.

Speaking about Johnson’s stance on mask wearing, Starmer said: “He agrees it’s common sense because it protects the public but he won’t make it mandatory. It’s ridiculous.”

Starmer claimed that the plan for the reopening of England “hasn’t been thought through”. 

We all want restrictions lifted, we want our economy open and we want to get back to normal. But we’ve been there too many times before. Isn’t it the case that once again, instead of a careful, controlled approach, we’re heading for a summer of chaos and confusion?

Starmer said that his party favours opening up “in a controlled way”. 

“Keeping baseline protections such as masks on on public transport, improving ventilation, making sure the track and trace system remains effective and ensuring proper payments for self-isolation. The Prime Minister can’t just wish away the practical problems that 100,000 infections a day are going to cause. ”

prime-ministers-questions UK Labour leader Keir Starmer. Source: PA Images

Johnson said there are “difficult decisions” to be made during the pandemic but that “it takes a great deal of drive and it takes a great deal of leadership to get things done”. 

Johnson said that decisions by his government have allowed the vaccine rollout to take place at an accelerated pace. 

Mr. Speaker, if we listened to him, we would not now be proceeding cautiously pragmatically and sensitively to reopen our society and our economy and give people back the chance to enjoy the freedoms they love.

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“We’re getting on to taking the tough decisions to take this country forward. We vaccinate, they vacillate. We inoculate Mr. Speaker while they’re invertebrate,” Johnson said. 

Yesterday it was confirmed that there had been a further 28,773 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK with 37 deaths of people who had Covid in the past four weeks. 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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