World, Europe

'Absolutely nothing to indicate' fresh lockdown needed: UK premier

'Numbers we're seeing at the moment fully in line with what we expected in autumn and winter plan,' Boris Johnson says

Karim El-Bar   | 22.10.2021
'Absolutely nothing to indicate' fresh lockdown needed: UK premier FILE PHOTO

LONDON

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that there was “absolutely nothing” to indicate the country would need a fresh lockdown, as the government’s scientific advisers called for preparations for the reintroduction of coronavirus restrictions should be made now so they “can be ready for rapid deployment if required.”

Speaking to reporters while on a visit to a vaccination center in West London, Johnson said: “We keep all measures under constant review - we'll do whatever we have to do to protect the public.

"But the numbers that we're seeing at the moment are fully in line with what we expected in the autumn and winter plan.

"What we want people to do is to come forward and get their jabs. We also want young people, we want kids at school to be getting their jabs with complete confidence and there will be booking systems opening from tomorrow in addition to the vaccination programme in schools.

"The message is that the boosters are fantastic, the levels of protection are really very high."

Pressed specifically on the issue of a fresh lockdown, Johnson said: "I've got to tell you at the moment that we see absolutely nothing to indicate that that is on the cards at all."

His comments came as the official minutes from an Oct. 14 meeting of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) were published on Friday.

They said it was “increasingly unlikely” that hospitalizations from COVID-19 would rise above the peak last January, but that preparations had to be made in any case.

"SAGE advises that policy work on the potential reintroduction of measures should be undertaken now so that it can be ready for rapid deployment if required, stressing the importance of reintroducing measures in combination, supported by clear communication; consistent implementation that avoids creating barriers to adherence; and clear triggers for deployment," the committee said.

“A slower return to pre-pandemic behaviours and reduced waning are both expected to reduce and delay any further wave, although there remains potential for a rapid increase in hospital admissions if behaviours change quickly, and if waning is more significant and occurs after boosting,” it added.

Meanwhile, Gillian Keegan, government minister, told Sky News that Britain’s vaccine passport concept will evolve in the future.

“The advice at the moment is the doubled jabbed vaccination, but of course that will evolve over time as the third dose comes in,” Keegan said.

“But it would be unreasonable to say right now when we've only just started the booster jab programme. It's two doses for now, but I'm sure the vaccine passport concept will evolve.”

British government data published on Friday showed that there were 49,298 new cases across the UK over the past 24 hours. This brings the total since the start of the pandemic to over 8.6 million. There were also a further 180 deaths, bringing the total to 139,326.​​​​​​​

Up to and including Oct. 21, over 49.6 million first doses of vaccine have been administered to Brits aged 12 and over, or 86.3%, and more than 45.4 million second doses, or 79.1%.

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