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Coronavirus: PM set to unveil Covid Winter Plan for England


Boris Johnson will announce his Covid Winter Plan for England on Tuesday, including contingency measures that would be implemented if the NHS was at risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Following the publication of the UK’s vaccine advisory body’s guidance on Monday, the Prime Minister will outline plans for booster vaccinations.

Officials are considering what steps might be required if the number of reported cases skyrockets.

However, government sources have stated that additional lockdowns are not being considered.

Mr Johnson’s Covid plan is expected to come after the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) announces who should receive booster vaccines.

The JCVI said last week that a third vaccine dose should be offered to people over the age of 12 with severely weakened immune systems – which accounts for up to half a million people in the UK.

It came after research showing about 40% of people with weakened immune systems had a low antibody response, and potentially less protection, after two vaccine doses.

The recommendation means that only the most vulnerable people – less than 1% of the population – will be offered a third dose, rather than everyone on the original list of clinically extremely vulnerable people.

The JCVI has yet to announce if a separate booster programme is needed and who would be eligible.

A government source stressed the Covid Winter Plan would emphasise how society planned to continue “living with” the virus throughout the winter and promote Covid and flu jabs.

The Times reports that mandatory face coverings and working from home will be brought back in if there is a winter surge in infections.

According to the paper, there is growing concern among ministers that if Covid infections increased alongside a bad flu season, the NHS would be severely strained.

The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), according to sources, has devised a series of options to limit the spread of Covid-19 without the use of lockdowns.

The legal requirement to wear a face covering ended on 19 July, but people have been advised to continue to wear them in crowded indoor spaces.

The UK reported a further 29,547 new infections on Saturday, alongside another 156 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test.

Meanwhile, 89 percent of people over the age of 16 have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and nearly 81 percent have received both doses.

The Coronavirus Act, which was introduced as emergency legislation to give the government new powers to combat coronavirus, is also up for a six-month review by MPs.

Mr Johnson intends to repeal unnecessary regulations in England, such as the authority to close down parts of the economy, such as businesses, or to impose restrictions on events and gatherings.

Regulations that allow for the temporary closure or limiting of access to schools, colleges, and childcare are also set to be repealed, as are those that extend time limits for urgent warrants and powers to detain infectious people.

Certain provisions of the Act, however, will be retained, including the requirement to self-isolate after receiving a positive PCR test, the provision of sick pay to those isolating from day one rather than day seven, and the authority to keep schools open if they close against government guidance.

“Thanks to the efforts of the public, the NHS, and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we reached step four in our roadmap, and life has returned to a sense of normalcy,” Mr Johnson said.

“These extraordinary circumstances necessitated necessary but intrusive measures.” But I’m determined to get rid of any abilities we no longer require as a result of our vaccine defences.”

The Prime Minister is expected to hold a press conference at Downing Street next week to outline the next steps in the government’s pandemic response.

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