Christmas easing of restrictions a ‘mistake which will have consequences’

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Relaxing coronavirus restrictions throughout the UK over Christmas is a “mistake” which will have “consequences”, a public health expert has said.

Christmas

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said she was concerned about people travelling from areas with high infections to parts of the country with lower prevalence of the virus.

The UK government and devolved administrations have agreed a joint plan to relax social distancing rules for five days over the festive period, between 23 and 27 December, allowing friends and family to hug for the first time in months.

But Bauld told BBC Breakfast:

From a public health perspective, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake. I think people have to think very carefully whether they can see loved ones outside, or do it in a very modest way.

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I’m also concerned about the travel, people going from high to low-prevalence areas. I think it’s going to have consequences.

However, Bauld added if the government reneged on the pledge then trust in politicians could erode further.

She went on:

I completely understand why governments are doing that. Behaviourally people are fed up.

If you’re meeting people indoors from other households, there’s poor ventilation, maybe older family members are in those bubbles, unfortunately because the virus hasn’t been eliminated… I think that means the Christmas period is a risk.

Rising cases

The latest coronavirus data shows, for the seven days to 7 December, of the 315 local areas in England, 179 have seen a rise in case rates, 135 have seen a fall, and one is unchanged.

Covid-19 growth rates
(PA Graphics)

Vaughan Gething, health minister for Wales, said the country faces an “incredibly serious situation” with a rising tide of infections since the relaxation of rules on 9 November.

He said the Welsh Government could theoretically break the agreement between Westminster and devolved administrations – but added it would cause a loss of trust.

He said:

There are huge issues here about trust in the government. If we were to upset those rules we would lose lots of trust from a large number of people who have stuck with us and we would also see I’m afraid a range of people prepared to ignore the rules.

Even with the agreement in place we’re likely to see a number of people go beyond that anyway. That’s why we are anticipating an increase after Christmas and why I expect there will be an increase after New Year’s Eve as well.

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, earlier this week warned the public to be “very, very sensible” and not go “too far” over Christmas, which he called a “very risky period”.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty during the latest Downing Street briefing
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty during the latest Downing Street briefing (Simon Dawson/PA)

New year

Scientists have already urged people to rethink Christmas amid rising infections, warning the country is heading towards “disaster”.

Just because people can meet up, it does not mean they should, according to Independent Sage. Independent Sage is also calling for a pandemic fuel allowance so people can keep their homes ventilated while at the same time turning up the heating to stay warm.

Professor Stephen Reicher, of the University of St Andrews, said:

Right now we are heading towards disaster.

Given high levels of infection across the country and the increasing levels in some areas (such as London) it is inevitable that if we all do choose to meet up over Christmas then we will pay the price in the new year.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Household family lineups at Christmas 2021 should see the matter hit home finally. If only human beings had some kind of faculty for being able to put images and concepts in their minds with reference to the near future. I mean, I can manage this, you can, but that’s a fluke isn’t it – as a species it seems to have been deemed maladaptive.

    2. This Bauld creature is a nitwit who hasn’t looked at the up to date data & is being lazy is not doing any research. There are so many scientists who have rubbished lockdowns as doing more harm that good but this woman is ignoring them (Ivor Cummings, John Ashton, etc.) but quite why is difficult to explain. I expected she thinks the inappropriate & discredited tests in use (PCR, etc) are alright too……..

    3. Here are some quotes from the ONS ‘Deaths Registered Weekly in England and Wales’ for week ending 20th March 2020. (week 12 in the cycle)

      “Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our regular weekly deaths release now provides a separate breakdown of the numbers of deaths involving COVID-19. That is, where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions. If a death mentions COVID-19, it will not always be the main cause of death, it will sometimes be a contributary factor.Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our regular weekly deaths release now provides a separate breakdown of the numbers of deaths involving COVID-19. That is, where COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate, including in combination with other health conditions. If a death mentions COVID-19, it will not always be the main cause of death, it will sometimes be a contributary factor.”

      “These figures are different from the daily surveillance figures on COVID-19 deaths published by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) on the GOV.UK website, for the UK as a whole. Figures in this report are derived from the formal process of death registration and may include cases where the doctor completing the death certificate diagnosed possible cases of COVID-19, for example, where this was based on relevant symptoms but no test for the virus was conducted. ”
      “The number of deaths involving COVID-19 increased, while the number of deaths from “Influenza and Pneumonia” decreased compared with the previous week”
      “A death can be registered with both Covid-19 and Influenza or Pneumonia mentioned on the death certificate, therefore a death may be counted in both categories.”
      “The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in week 12 (week ending 20 March 2020) decreased from 11,019 in week 11 (week ending 13 March 2020) to 10,645; this is 72 more deaths than the five-year average of 10,573. The number of death registrations involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) increased from 5 in week 11 to 103 in week 12. Including deaths that occurred in week 12 but were registered up to 25 March, the number involving COVID-19 was 181 (this is not shown in the chart).

      “In week 12, 18% of all deaths mentioned “Influenza or Pneumonia”, COVID-19, or both. In comparison, for the five-year average, 20% of deaths mentioned “Influenza and Pneumonia”. “Influenza and Pneumonia” has been included for comparison, as a well understood cause of death involving respiratory infection that is likely to have somewhat similar risk factors to COVID-19.”

      “In week 12 (week ending 20 March 2020), there were no deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the two youngest age groups (that is, those aged 1 year or under and those aged 1 to 14 years). There were 20 deaths among those aged 65 to 74 years, which was 1.1% of deaths of that age group, the highest proportion. The highest number of deaths in a specific age group occurred in those aged 85 years and over, with 45 deaths (1.1% of deaths in this age group).”

      For comparison the average death rate for the previous two years was 50,000 per month or 11,494 per week (50,000/52.2).

      And now, surprise surprise, we have ‘a new strain’ of Co?vid. No doubt requiring a new fast-tracked vaccine to be tested on the general population and paid for out of the national debt, which will be the next justification for ‘austerity’ and why the previous period of ‘austerity’ didn’t work. Despite the spending increases pushed through by our Eton cowboys.

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