The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has outlined his intention for the country to return to ‘Plan A’, in moves to keep coronavirus rates as low as possible.
In a statement to the House of Commons, he said:
“Today’s latest ONS data shows clearly that infection levels are falling in England. And while there are some places where cases are likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally.”
Hospital admissions nationally, he said, have now stabilised and the numbers in intensive care are falling. Mr Johnson said that:
- From the next Thursday (27 January) mandatory certification will end, meaning people will no longer have to prove their Coronavirus status to gain entry to some venues
- The government will no longer ask people to work from home, but that people should talk to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office
- That it will no longer be compulsory to wear face coverings, starting this week in classrooms
- There will be easing of restrictions governing visits to care homes
But while the current rules around self-isolation remain in place, Mr Johnson said:
“There will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether – just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.”
He added that he does not expect to renew the current self-isolation regulations, when they expire on Thursday 24 March.
Responding to the statement, Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:
“While we have seen a reduction in the overall number of people reporting a positive test in the past week, numbers are now stabilising, and we are seeing increased rates in younger children.
Case rates are still high and it is important that people understand that this announcement is not one of ‘freedom day’, but a reverting back to plan A.
Devon’s uptake of the vaccination is good, with more than 85 per cent of eligible people overall now having had their booster.
However, take-up of the booster is lower in some younger age groups, and it’s imperative that they and everyone who is eligible for their booster jab, comes forward as soon as they can.
Omicron is by no means a mild virus, and the symptoms to those who are unvaccinated or who have underlying health concerns can be extremely serious if not life threatening.
So while the Prime Minister is indicating light towards the end of the tunnel, my advice is that we are not yet out of the woods.
We must stay vigilant and alert to risk that is still around us.
Being fully vaccinated, and boosted, gives us best protection from this virus. It’s not too late to start vaccinations, and there are now plenty of opportunities in Devon to get your booster jabs at walk-in and vaccination centres.
Wearing face coverings is still an effective and sensible precaution to continue in indoor and crowded spaces, especially with people you don’t know.
Regular lateral flow device testing for people with no symptoms is still the best way to identify those carrying the virus. As is taking a PCR test by people showing symptoms.
Keeping indoor spaces ventilated is a sensible precaution to reduce risk.
And staying at home and avoiding others if you have symptoms of the virus or test positive for it, is still the most responsible way to avoid spreading it to others.
Please be cautious, let’s use our common sense, and continue to follow good basic public health advice.”