Dr Zubaida Haque, part of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for England (ISAGE), has said the whole of England “must be put into Tier Four immediately” as the mutated strain of COVID-19 spreads across the country. The medical professional took to Twitter to urge the Government to implement the toughest restrictions “now to save lives”, as the UK passes 70,000 total deaths from coronavirus.
Dr Haque questioned why current restrictions remained in place, and why the Christmas bubble plan went ahead, as deaths and hospitalised patients were at their highest point.
She added: “Given that we surpassed 70,000 COVID-19 deaths in UK on Christmas Day, and there are now more patients with coronavirus in hospital than at any point in the pandemic, why hasn’t the government implemented Tier Four restrictions everywhere in the UK? Independent SAGE are very worried.”
“Given the crisis situation we’re in with the highest number of daily deaths with COVID-19 in 2nd wave, with 1000’s more likely to be infected because of relaxation of rules in Tiers 1-3 on Christmas Day AND failed govt’s test & trace system, we need Tier Four everywhere now to save lives.”
The medical professional also posted ISAGE’s Christmas Eve statement recommending the Government “immediately” rescind relaxed rules, as well as “put in place an emergent plan to enable safe education” in the new year and “focus all efforts on mass roll-out of vaccine”.
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More than six million people were placed into the strongest national restrictions yesterday, with Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Waverley being put into Tier Four.
Essex regions not yet under Tier Four were also brought into the highest level of restrictions, along with Hampshire with the exception of the New Forest.
In total, around 43 percent on England is now under the strictest measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with nearly 24 million people in the highest tier.
The new tier of restrictions was unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last weekend as the Government attempted to stop the spread of a new strain of COVID-19, thought by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to be 56 percent more infectious than the original form of the virus.
It comes as the Government faces calls to bring back lockdown measures in the new year, with Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London and member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), saying coronavirus has repeatedly been underestimated.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he blasted the Government for not introducing a two-week “circuit-breaker” in September despite being advised to, and said the economic damage would have been less than what was suffered under the November lockdown.
He added: “I think countries like ours that have failed to control Covid have seen they have the highest death rates and the greatest impact on the economy.
“And, I think we have repeatedly underestimated Covid and done too little too late, really, to control the virus and save both lives and livelihoods.”
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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers have recently suggested the new strain of coronavirus, discovered in Kent in September, could be more likely to affect children.
They said there is “some evidence that the increase may be particularly marked in children”, and said infections were “unlikely’ to fall unless all schools and universities were closed.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is reportedly insisting schools and universities remain open, with crunch meeting between Downing Street and the Department of Education to be held on the matter next week.
A source close to the Secretary said to the Sunday Telegraph: “He’s facing an enormous battle. It’s the lockdowners [he’s fighting].”
Yesterday saw the UK record a further 34,693 cases and 210 deaths, which are defined as any death within 28 days of coronavirus diagnosis.
In total, the UK has now seen 70,405 deaths and 2,256,005 cases of coronavirus according to the Office of National Statistics.
Coronavirus patients rose by 2,143 yesterday, for a total of 21,286 Brits hospitalised and 1,529 on ventilators.
As of December 20, 616,933 Brits have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.