Covid restrictions ‘go nowhere near far enough’ and could force another lockdown – expert

Omicron: David Davis outlines crucial Covid passport flaw

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Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist at the Queen Mary University of London, told The i that rather than unveiling “incremental” restrictions which could land the UK in another lockdown, the Government must respond to the “crisis” that Omicron has created. She said: “The NHS is already in trouble. And in the worst-case scenario, the impact [of Omicron] could actually exceed previous peaks in terms of hospitalisations.

“This is a crisis. It’s not a time for incremental measures.

“It’s much better to take stringent action early, but as usual the Government is proceeding with delayed action which inevitably leads into lockdowns.”

On Wednesday, the PM said vaccine passports will be required in nightclubs and other large-scale venues from next Wednesday, adding that face masks will become compulsory in most public indoor settings from Friday.

He said that advice to work from home where possible will come into force from Monday.

Dr Gurdasani added that people have become complacent following the Government messaging over the past few months that vaccination provides bulletproof protection against Covid.

She continued: “The messaging from Government has been that this is a ‘pingdemic’, that getting tested is an inconvenience, that the pandemic is over and that vaccinations means that we are out of this. Until Omicron, that was their messaging.”

Dr Gurdasani added: “Vaccines are just one layer of protection… The time to prevent [Omicron] is now because we don’t have much time left… I definitely think we will be at the point where the NHS is in such a crisis that a lockdown would have to be considered.”

Other scientists suggested the UK should follow Europe’s lead in acting early and fast in imposing tough restrictions ahead of the Christmas period.

Dr Eleanor Gaunt, virologist at the University of Edinburgh, also told The i: “The current rules around vaccine passports go nowhere near far enough.

“There needs to be vaccine passports in every public setting that could become a transmission hotpot, whether that’s pubs or cafes.

“It’s not hard to do — it’s technology that’s already widely used throughout Europe.

“It needs to be that level of stringency and there’s no reason why we can’t do that in the UK.”

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Dr Gaunt added that much tougher restrictions would be needed to bring down infection numbers, which are almost as high as figures seen in July during a spike in Covid cases following the Euro 2020 final.

“There’s going to be a heck of a lot of cases, but the repercussions of that are still unclear.

“So we’re really in a position now where we need to be prepared for the worst.

“It seems very likely to me that lots of people will be forced to self-isolate. Omicron is incredibly transmissible.

“A lot of people are going to be exposed to this variant, so it will result in a lot of isolations.”

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