rance has become the latest European country to announce restrictions for British travelers trying to stop the spread of the Indian variant Covid.
It comes as NHS data in England shows more people are seeking help from their GPs after a significant drop in numbers over the past year, the BBC reported.
The total number of appointments fell by 10%, which means 31 million fewer views.
Housing Minister denies thousands needlessly died during pandemic
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said he rejects Dominic Cummings’ claim that tens of thousands of people have died needlessly during the pandemic.
When asked directly if he thought that claim was false, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: ‘Yes, I think so, because you have to remember that not all of us had the facts at the time the decisions were made. .
âNo one, I think, could doubt for a moment that the Prime Minister was doing anything other than acting with the best motives with the information and advice at his disposal.
Sage scientist discusses the Covid investigation
Professor Stephen Reicher told BBC Breakfast the need for an urgent public inquiry into what went wrong.
He said: âA lot of the issues Dominic Cummings raised about infection control, supporting people to self-isolate, messaging, borders are always issues that come up when we are. very concerned about the rise of this new variant …
âYesterday should have been a public inquiry, it shouldn’t have been Dominic Cummings giving his side of the story, and if it was a public inquiry we could save lives for the future.
âUnfortunately, there is nothing we can do for those who are lost, but maybe it will make sense of what is happening if their experience teaches us lessons so that we learn for the future.
The June 21 roadmap is on hold
Professor Neil Ferguson told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the June 21 roadmap date for England was on the line.
He said experts were still concerned about issues such as the transmissibility of the Indian variant and that âstage 4 (of the roadmap) is rather in the balance, with data collected in the next two to three weeks. will be critical â.
He added: âThe key question as to whether we can move forward is this: the push caused by the Indian variant – and we think there will be a push – will it be more than what? has already been included in the easing measures?
âSo relaxation has always been expected to lead to an increase in infections and to some extent a small third wave of transmission – this is inevitable if you allow contact rates in the population to increase even in spite of immunity – (but) we can not cope with this being too big.
“In the next two or three weeks, we will be able to come to a firm assessment of the possibility of moving forward.”
Health Secretary Avoids Questions About Dominic Cummings
Health Secretary Matt Hancock declined to answer questions about Dominic Cummings’ criticisms of his handling of the pandemic as he left for work Thursday morning.
Speaking to reporters outside his home in north-west London, Mr Hancock said: ‘I’m just ready to move the vaccination program forward, then I’ll go to the House of Commons and answer questions. . “
Locking down a week earlier would have saved 20,000 to 30,000 lives, says Ferguson
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, whose modeling helped persuade the government to put in place the first lockdown, said scientists became increasingly concerned in the week leading up to March 13, 2020 by the absence of a clear plan, and 20,000 to 30,000 lives could have been saved with earlier action.
Asked about BBC Radio 4’s Today program when the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), of which he was a member, decided that a herd immunity policy would result in a large number of deaths, he said that a key meeting had taken place with the NHS on March 1 “which finalized the estimates on health impacts, so the following week really.”
Professor Ferguson said he “was not aware of what officials thought in the government”, but added: “I would say that on the scientific side there was growing concern this week leading up to the 13th. March about the lack of clarity, say, (a) resolute plan of what would happen in the next few days in terms of implementing social distancing. “
Asked about Sage’s influence in changing the herd immunity policy to a foreclosure policy, he said, âI think the key problem … it’s multiple factors, partly the modeling, that had been around for a few weeks but has become more firm, especially since we’ve seen data from the UK, and unfortunately I think one of the biggest lessons to be learned in such circumstances is that we really need good surveillance in the country at a much earlier stage than what we had in March of last year.
“As we saw the data piling up, and it was modeling, even worse than modeling, let’s say it was focusing the minds.”
He then said the lockdown a week earlier would have saved 20,000 to 30,000 lives “and I think that is indisputable. I mean the epidemic was doubling every three to four days during the weeks of March 13-23, and if we had pushed back the interventions for a week, we would have reduced that and saved many lives â.
Now is not the time to open a public inquiry into pandemic response, says Housing minister
Asked why the government would not advance a public inquiry into the coronavirus, as Labor demanded, Mr Jenrick said now was not the time.
He told Sky News that it would not be wise to launch an investigation while the country is still grappling with the pandemic.
“I think next spring seems like a logical time, because I hope the country will be in a very different and improved situation then,” Jenrick said.
âPublic inquiries are a long process, we’ve seen this with all of the recent past, and it’s best, I think, that they happen when we’re out of the immediate response phase, and then we can adopt a considered point of view, carefully examine the evidence, not only listen to the people who testify as we heard yesterday, but examine the evidence in the round and obviously learn lessons for the future.
‘Things could have been done better to protect people in nursing homes,’ says Jenrick
Mr Jenrick told Sky News that a public inquiry would expose the government’s response and “hear the evidence in a reasoned and thoughtful manner.”
When asked if he thought Matt Hancock had repeatedly lied, as Mr. Cummings alleged, Mr. Jenrick replied, “It’s not my experience.”
But he admitted “there were things we, in hindsight, could have done better to protect people in care homes” after Mr Cummings objected to moves to fire residents who had not. been tested for the coronavirus.
âI don’t think anyone disputes the fact that nursing homes are one of the most difficult parts of the last 12 months or so,â he said.
âBut it is not correct to say that we did not do all we could to protect both residents and people who work in nursing homes, with the imperfect information we had at the time.
Audiences heard ‘only one side of the story’, says Housing secretary
Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick said the public had heard “only one side of the story” after Dominic Cummings’ revelations about the government’s handling of the pandemic.
The housing, communities and local government secretary said he would not go into the “specific allegations” Mr Cummings made to MPs on Wednesday.
But when asked if he would defend his Cabinet colleague, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who faced much of the criticism from the former Prime Minister’s assistant, he told Sky News: “ I think the Department of Health and the Secretary of Health worked exceptionally hard during the course. of this pandemic. It was an unprecedented situation, it was a national effort involving all parts of government in all parts of the country. “
Opening of a vaccination program in Northern Ireland for those over 18
The Covid-19 vaccination program in Northern Ireland is open to all people aged 18 and over.
More than a million people in the region have now received at least one dose of the vaccine – over 70% of the adult population – and more than 625,000 (over 40%) have received two doses.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: âI am delighted that our vaccination program is now open to all adults in Northern Ireland.
âI know this will be great news for the kids who have been patiently waiting their turn to take the hit.
âToday’s announcement is another important step in the drive to get as many people vaccinated as possible as quickly as possible, so that we can see a return to normalcy.
âThe tremendous success of the immunization program has raised high hopes and helped enable the recent easing of restrictions.
âThe extension of the vaccination program, well ahead of schedule, to all people aged 18 and over is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in administering the vaccine throughout Ireland from North.”
Melbourne returns to lockdown
The city that was once Australia’s worst Covid-19 hotspot has announced a seven-day lockdown amid a sudden spike in cases.
The lockdown of Melbourne and the rest of Victoria state comes after a new cluster in the city grew to 26 infections, including one person in intensive care. It is the city’s fourth since the start of the pandemic.
Victoria’s acting Prime Minister James Merlino said: “Unless something changes, it will get more and more out of control.”
The new Melbourne cluster was discovered after an Indian traveler was infected with a more contagious variant of the virus while in quarantine at a hotel in the state of South Australia earlier this month.
The traveler was not diagnosed until he returned home to Melbourne.