UK hospitals on edge as government resists new COVID measures

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LONDON (AP) – Britain’s Health Minister Sajid Javid on Wednesday resisted calls from doctors for further action to stem a growing wave of COVID-19 infections despite his warnings that hospitals are on the brink of overwhelm.


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Britain reported 223 new deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since March, and the cases are the highest in Europe, with nearly 50,000 new infections reported on Wednesday.

Javid announced deals for two experimental COVID-19 antivirals, one developed by Merck and Ridgeback Therapeutics and another by Pfizer, duplicating a strategy of relying on vaccines and drugs to limit harm this winter, rather than restrictions.

But he cautioned that people should get vaccinated and take booster shots when offered, or else “Plan B” could be enacted, which involves limited steps like mask mandates, a work from home, and vaccination passes to enter. the places.

“We are closely analyzing the data and we will not implement our Plan B contingency measures at this time,” he said, adding that 5 million people over the age of 16 were still unvaccinated and that cases could reach 100,000 cases per day. .


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“If we want to secure these freedoms in the long term, the best we can do is show up (for an opportunity), one more time, when that time comes.”

Britain has the eighth highest death toll globally from COVID-19, with 139,000 deaths. But he also had a quick start to his vaccine program and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lifted almost all restrictions in England, ending social distancing measures and masking mandates.

The Johnson administration has said it relies on vaccines, including booster shots for the vulnerable, to avoid winter lockdowns, having shut down the economy three times.

But deployment has stalled, lagging behind several other European countries, while the reinforcement program has gotten off to a slow start.


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“COVID-19 cases are increasing and winter is approaching. If you haven’t been vaccinated, now is the time. If they offer you a booster, take the offer, ”said Medical Director Chris Whitty, adding that masks in crowded indoor spaces are still important.

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Doctors have expressed concern that an increase in the number of people entering the hospital, combined with pressure on the National Health Service (NHS) from seasonal viruses, could leave hospitals unable to cope with long lists of standby and function normally.

Matthew Taylor, executive director of the NHS Confederation, called for more action.

“We are in the middle of October. Things are only going to get worse, ”Taylor told BBC radio.

“The health service is on the edge … if it goes much further, we will not be able to provide the level of service that people need.”

Javid said he did not believe that the pressure on the NHS had become unsustainable, adding that the government would act if that changed.

Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said the risk was primarily in the unvaccinated.

He added that a subvariant of Delta that is growing in England is unlikely to change the picture. Javid said there was no reason to believe that the subvariant posed a greater threat than Delta.



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