All prosecutions under The Coronavirus Act have been dropped. Almost 300 people have been charged under the act and all charges have been dropped before getting to court. The Crown Prosecution Service, CPS, have shown how everyone has been confused by the constantly changing laws. Many people were charged with the wrong offence. The regulations were changed some sixty times in 6 months.
This brings the question about whether the emergency actions taken under Coronavirus Act could and indeed should have been made under the Civil Contingencies Act (CCA). This is a big question for the post pandemic Public Inquiry to consider. This would seem to me more about keeping the Department of Health as the main driver rather than the Home Office for the CCA.
The rise in new infections in many hotspots in England centered around North West England and in Scotland around Southern Glasgow and Murray has become much clearer in the last 48 hours. The number of new cases have doubled in the last week. The worst affected places in England are Bolton and Blackburn.
Many of the 48 clusters identified, are caused by the Indian variant. The outbreaks seem to be linked to schools, religious groups and care homes. A total of 1,723 cases of the Indian variant have been identified. It is still not clear how much is due to travel to and from India before it became a red area.
It is clear, that nearly all the cases are in younger people who have not been vaccinated. This has introduced the new concept of surge vaccination and there are calls to immunise everyone over the age of 16 very quickly in these two towns in an attempt to contain the pandemic. The problem is that it will take 3 weeks after the vaccination before it is effective. Another approach is where there is a case in a household then every other person in the household irrespective of age should be immunised. Again, in my view they will be infected before they develop immunity in 3 weeks’ time.
The view of the JVCI (and mine!) is that we should continue to immunise on the basis of age which remains the biggest risk factor. There is still limited vaccine. If you give one to a 16 year old you deprive a 30 year old of it. You could therefore increase the risk of serious illness and death.
More important is to improve the uptake rate. There are far too many reluctant to be immunised which will help the spread. As a nation all our efforts must go towards immunising every adult as quickly as possible.
SAGE have confirmed a slight rise in the R rate which is now between 0.8 and 1.1
In the briefing tonight Boris Johnson just reiterated the warnings I wrote here 48 hours ago. He is allowing the relaxations planned for Monday to go ahead but with a strong warning about how crucial the next two weeks will be. The rising number of cases is not yet affecting the Health Service and the pressure there at the moment, is low. If it begins to rise and cause pressure the 4 tests would no longer be met, and the easing of lockdown would be stopped. The PM made it very clear we need to be ultra cautious. He made it clear how we must act cautiously and responsibly. Please do not cuddle unless absolutely necessary. Do not relax social distancing. Wherever possible continue the way you have without changing your behaviour just because you can, make full use of the free twice weekly testing.
The statistics show another 9.4% rise in the number of positive tests at 2,193. This number has doubled in a week, The number of daily tests being done also seems to be dropping . Yesterday yet again it was below 1 million at 982,881. There were just 17 deaths, a drop still of 13% in 7 days. 1,060 people are in hospital beds, 109 were admitted yesterday and there are now just 129 on a ventilator.
With the vaccine roll out 36.11 million first doses and 19.31 million 2nd doses have been given. To improve the number of people having had two doses, people waiting for their second doses at 12 weeks have the vaccine put aside for them. They are likely to be called a bit earlier than first planned. Expect an invitation any time after 8 weeks since the first one. This is quite safe and boosts the level of protection to over 90% after two weeks. Please get you vaccines when offered.
So as from Monday it is down to each and every one of us to make our own decisions. By allowing the lifting of the restrictions and telling us to sort it ourselves, the Government cleverly cannot be blamed if it all goes wrong. I urge you all to stick with our current arrangements whenever possible. It is in the balance at the moment in the race between immunisation and the more transmissible Indian variant.
Please stay cautious, stay safe, share with us any thoughts or suggestions you may have.
My advice is not to make any changes.