BRITAIN is in “good shape” to repel a winter Covid wave and new restrictions aren’t needed yet despite rising cases, Sajid Javid said today.
The health secretary insisted there is “no need” to trigger fresh curbs on daily life like mask wearing, working from home, and jabs passports.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Britain has ‘fantastic defences’ against the virusCredit: Tim Hammond / No10 Downing Street
He said the UK’s sky-high vaccination rate, mass testing regime, and the development of new treatments provide us with “fantastic defences”.
A sombre Mr Javid also apologised to families across Britain who lost loved ones due to early mistakes made in the handling of the pandemic.
Covid cases hit their highest level in three months yesterday with 42,776 new ones recorded.
That was the largest figure since July 21, when 44,104 people tested positive for the virus.
New infections are slowly rising but have largely remained stable at between 30,000 and 40,000 a day across the summer.
Deaths have also remained stable with 136 deaths reported yesterday – lower than the 143 recorded the same time week earlier.
Asked how the UK is faring in its fight against the pandemic, Mr Javid said: “Overall things feel quite stable at this point.
“The numbers are a bit up, a bit down over the last few weeks ever since we took this step four [Freedom Day] decision.
“But it’s also right to see that our primary defences against this virus are working.
“Number one is the vaccines. Our vaccination programme is going fantastically and we’re one of the highest vaccinated countries in the world.
“We do need to do more and that’s why we’ve got our booster programme which is doing incredibly well at the moment as well.”
He added: “We want to keep up those defences. We are concerned about flu and that’s why we’ve got the biggest flu vaccination programme ever.
“We’ve also obviously got our testing regime and the new treatments that are now going to be available for fighting COVID.
“And so your vaccines, testing and treatments taken together are fantastic defences.”
The health secretary said: “We always need to have a plan for contingencies and we’ve talked about what action we would take if we had to go further.
“But at this point I see no reason to do that. The pandemic is still there, we’ve got to remain cautious, but the defences we’ve got are in good shape.”
Ministers have drawn up two plans for how to react to any fresh surge in Covid cases this winter.
Plan A, which will be activated first, involves a mass rollout of booster jabs and increased testing to fight the virus.
If that doesn’t work there is a fallback Plan B, which would reintroduce some mask wearing, home working, and vaccine passports.