Health

Sajid Javid vows Christmas WON’T be cancelled this year

247 News Around The World
247 News Around The World

Sajid Javid today vowed Christmas will not be cancelled this year as he insisted ministers are not expecting ‘any more lockdowns’.

The Health Secretary insisted ‘of course’ the festive season will go ahead as Boris Johnson prepares to unveil the government’s ‘winter plan’.

In his big set-piece on Tuesday, Mr Johnson will scrap some of the swingeing powers that the government took to manage the response to the disease.

And he will say that vaccines can be the main defence against a feared surge in cases over the coming months – avoiding the need for drastic restrictions to be reimposed.

A booster jab programme could begin as early as this month, while other measures in the ‘toolbox’ for tackling outbreaks will include masks.

However, Mr Johnson made similar commitments on Christmas last year. He suggested it would be ‘inhuman’ to stop friends and family spending time together – before doing just that by imposing tough new lockdown on millions of people after the Kent variant emerged.

Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show if Britons will ‘get Christmas’ this year, Mr Javid laughed and said: ‘Yes, of course we get Christmas and the New Year.’

He insisted he is ‘not anticipating any more lockdowns’ although he stressed that governments could take ‘anything off the table’. ‘I just don’t see how we get to another lockdown,’ he added.

Sajid Javid (pictured on the Marr Show today) insisted 'of course' the festive season will go ahead as Boris Johnson prepares to unveil the government's 'winter plan'

Sajid Javid (pictured on the Marr Show today) insisted 'of course' the festive season will go ahead as Boris Johnson prepares to unveil the government's 'winter plan'

Sajid Javid (pictured on the Marr Show today) insisted ‘of course’ the festive season will go ahead as Boris Johnson prepares to unveil the government’s ‘winter plan’

Mr Johnson (pictured in Downing Street last December) made similar commitments on Christmas last year. He suggested it would be 'inhuman' to stop friends and family spending time together - before doing just that by imposing tough new lockdown on millions of people after the Kent variant emerged

Mr Johnson (pictured in Downing Street last December) made similar commitments on Christmas last year. He suggested it would be 'inhuman' to stop friends and family spending time together - before doing just that by imposing tough new lockdown on millions of people after the Kent variant emerged

Mr Johnson (pictured in Downing Street last December) made similar commitments on Christmas last year. He suggested it would be ‘inhuman’ to stop friends and family spending time together – before doing just that by imposing tough new lockdown on millions of people after the Kent variant emerged

Britain's vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward, taking the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9million (80.8 per cent)

Britain's vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward, taking the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9million (80.8 per cent)

Britain’s vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward, taking the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9million (80.8 per cent)

Double-jabbed travellers ‘to be spared PCR tests next month’

Double-jabbed travellers will no longer have to take expensive PCR Covid tests when returning to the UK, the Government is poised to announce.

Officials are working towards scrapping the requirement for green and amber list countries before the half-term holidays next month, The Mail on Sunday can reveal, providing a huge boost for millions of holidaymakers and the beleaguered travel industry.

Travellers will no longer need Covid tests before leaving for Britain, while the unpopular PCR tests currently required on the second day after arrival will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests.

The move will slash the cost of family holidays by hundreds of pounds. Currently, the PCR test can cost more than £100, while the NHS offers free lateral flow tests.

The plan will be discussed this week by Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove who form the so-called Covid-O committee.

The change would also tackle fears that some PCR firms are profiteering and could provide an incentive for people to be vaccinated, as the new rules would only apply to those who have been double jabbed.

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As well as the lockdown promise, Mr Javid dramatically ruled out compulsory Covid passports being introduced in England next month after a huge Tory outcry.

The Health Secretary declared that the government ‘will not be going ahead’ with the controversial move for nightclubs and major events, ahead of Boris Johnson unveiling the government’s ‘winter plan’ on Tuesday.

The U-turn comes after ministers were sent out to defend the proposals last week despite heavy fire from Conservative MPs who branded them ‘unsupportable, coercive and discriminatory’.

Responding to briefing about the policy being axed in interviews this morning, Mr Javid only initially told Sky News that he ‘hoped we can avoid’ the step.

But little more than an hour later he was telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that although the option is being ‘held in reserve’, ‘we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports’.

Government sources stressed that it is still possible the plans will be revisited if hospitalisations look at risk of running out of control later in the year.

The decision draws another dividing line within the UK, as Nicola Sturgeon has announced that a certification scheme will be launched in Scotland from October 1.

Last week vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted Covid passports were the right thing to do even though he admitted they ‘went against everything I believe in’.

But briefing emerged in the Sunday Times about the U-turn.

Firms and venues who are already demanding proof of vaccination will be allowed to continue to do so, but they will not be any legal obligation.

Mr Javid was at first reluctant to give a firm commitment, but then stated that the plan will not go ahead – although the concept will be kept ‘in reserve’.

‘I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it,’ he said.

‘We’ve looked at it properly and whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.’

The shift poses a challenge for Ms Sturgeon, who again defended her own proposals in interviews this morning.

‘I think it is part of a package of measures, it has a part to play,’ she told Sky News.

‘Of course any measure we take has upsides and it has downsides.

‘If we take lockdown for example, very, very effective at halting or sufficiently constraining transmission of the virus but came with enormous costs in terms of the economy and our overall wellbeing as a society, so nothing is straightforward here.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that mandatory Covid passports will not go ahead as he stressed rising vaccination rates

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that mandatory Covid passports will not go ahead as he stressed rising vaccination rates

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that mandatory Covid passports will not go ahead as he stressed rising vaccination rates

‘This is a very limited scheme.’

Speculation has been mounting over what increased measures may be brought in this winter, a high-risk time for coronavirus as other respiratory illnesses.

Mr Johnson hopes to avoid locking down the entire country and will send a message by repealling some of the Government’s powers to shut down sections of the economy in England under the Coronavirus Act.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Thanks to the efforts of the public, the NHS and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we reached Step 4 in our road map and life has returned to a sense of normality.

‘These extraordinary times required necessary but intrusive measures. But I’m determined to get rid of any powers we no longer need because of our vaccine defences.

‘I will set out the next phase in our Covid response shortly.’

The powers expected to be repealed include those allowing the closing down of the economy, the imposing of restrictions on events, the power to temporarily close or restrict access to schools, and powers to detain infectious people.

The Government expects the independent Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) to recommend details of a jab booster programme next week.

The focus on vaccination in the Covid winter plan comes after claims ministers were considering a so-called firebreak lockdown in October.

An unnamed member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said a ‘precautionary break’ could be part of ‘contingency plans’, the i newspaper reported.

But Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘I don’t think that’s something we need to consider.’

He said no decisions are ‘risk-free’ but insisted the ‘best defence’ against another wave of the virus is the vaccine programme.

Downing Street denied the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.

But the spokesman added that they have ‘retained contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios’.

They said: ‘These kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS.’

There are plans in place to begin giving booster jabs to the most vulnerable as early as this month, as more than 65 per cent of the entire UK population have been fully vaccinated.

The UK’s chief medical officers are drawing up advice to Government on whether children aged 12 to 15 should be vaccinated after the JCVI said the margin of benefit from vaccinating healthy children was too small to say they should receive a jab.

The Observer reported that jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds would begin on September 22.

But the UK’s medical regulator has reportedly ruled that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine cannot be used for third doses in this way.

This means the majority of third doses given out this autumn and winter are likely to be Pfizer.

This could see the Oxford jab, initially planned to be the workhorse of the UK’s vaccination programme, effectively phased out.

The AZ jab is already not offered to under 40s in the UK due to a link with rare blood clots.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Thursday that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs are safe to use as boosters, but the JCVI has yet to give its advice to ministers.

The JCVI has already said a third dose should be offered to people with severely weakened immune systems.

On Friday, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, whose team developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said he believes the priority should be donating vaccines to countries where people are still awaiting a first dose.

His views have been echoed by his Oxford colleague Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who helped design the vaccine and said booster jabs may not be needed by everyone.

Several other countries, including the US, Israel, Hungary, Germany and France, have announced or started third dose programmes for at least some of their citizens.

Meanwhile, it was reported that hundreds of thousands of long Covid patients were waiting up to six months to access clinics specifically set up to tackle the condition.

Department of Health bosses posted 29,547 new cases on Saturday, down 21 per cent on the 37,578 recorded last Saturday.

But the number of people dying within 28 days of a positive test is continuing to increase, with 156 people falling victim to the virus, bringing the total figure past 158,000. The figure was up 30 per cent on the 120 recorded last week.

Fatalities tend to reflect changes in infection levels at least a week after due to the time it takes for people to become seriously ill.

Britain’s vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward with 89,832 second doses dished out today. It takes the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9million (80.8 per cent).

Some 25,019 first doses were also dished out, taking the total number of people to receive at least one jab up to 48.4million (89 per cent)

Elsewhere, it was reported that PCR tests needed prior to travel will be scrapped, with the day two test required when returning from abroad to be replaced by a cheaper lateral flow test.

Officials are working towards scrapping the requirement for green and amber list countries before the half-term holidays next month, The Mail on Sunday revealed.

The move will slash the cost of family holidays by hundreds of pounds. Currently, the PCR test can cost more than £100, while the NHS offers free lateral flow tests.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

The post Sajid Javid vows Christmas WON’T be cancelled this year appeared first on 247 News Around The World.

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