Covid latest: Fearful public wants tighter measures to curb crisis

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An exclusive poll for the Daily Express shows 75 per cent back using masks and four fifths think they should be compulsory on public transport.

A similar number wants the Government to introduce Plan B, which would impose face coverings, working from home and Covid certificates in some situations. Seven in 10 said they would “totally” obey the rules if that happened.

Fears are mounting Britain has taken its eye off the ball and, as the party season approaches, a perfect storm of mass gatherings and winter pressures could put us back to square one.

NHS Confederation CEO Matthew Taylor, said only immediate pre-emptive action would avert a winter disaster.

He warned: “The public can play its part by continuing to get tested, meeting in ventilated places, wearing masks and getting vaccinated against both flu and coronavirus.

“But there are extra measures the Government should be taking right now that would not overly inhibit our daily lives but could reduce the spread of Covid.”

He added: “Choosing to ignore the warnings from health leaders and other experts is a big gamble.”

Mr Taylor spoke as 34,029 more coronavirus cases and 193 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

On Thursday, 37,269 cases and 214 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported, and there were 43,467 cases and 186 deaths this time last week. Pictures yesterday showed the lax attitude of transport users, with very few on the London Underground wearing a mask.

But health chiefs say the NHS is witnessing worrying increases in Covid cases as it prepares for a busy winter and say staff are close to burn-out.

Of 1,351 adults surveyed by OnePoll for this newspaper on November 3 and 4, 83 per cent said masks should be compulsory on public transport. And only 20 per cent agree the Government is handling the winter spike in Covid cases.

Mr Taylor said: “There is no denying the NHS is heading into a very perilous winter and has been running hot for months on end. This is only going to get worse as we head into the deepest darkest days.

“The Health Secretary has warned daily confirmed cases of coronavirus could reach 100,000 and we are expecting a resurgence of flu and other respiratory illnesses as the NHS works through a massive treatment backlog.” The findings come as experts issued a fresh warning Europe is again at the “epicentre” of the pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said cases were soaring and its Europe chief Hans Kluge said there could be 500,000 more deaths by February.

WHO epidemiologist Dr Mike Ryan said the situation in Europe was a “warning shot for the world”.

There have been 9,241,916 Covid cases and 141,588 deaths in Britain alone since the health emergency erupted in March 2020. Every day about 1,000 are being admitted to hospital.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he believed the UK would be “in a much calmer set of waters by spring”, but added: “I feel there are some hard months to come in the winter and it is not over.

“I think a whole range of behaviours, but generally the caution people take or don’t take in terms of interacting with each other, is going to be a big determinant in what happens between now and the darkest months of the winter.”

See the latest Covid vaccine stats below and visit InYourArea for all the Covid vaccine latest

Even if fully vaccinated, the Government says Covid “will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future”.

A Plan B would be enacted if pressures on the NHS risked acted isked becoming unsustainable.

Daily Express columnist and oncologist Prof Karol Sikora said: “I don’t believe Government-imposed restrictions are necessary, but that means we all have to show some sense.

“We can have a normal Christmas but it means keeping our wits about us now.” 

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