British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that the government would stick to its “cautious but irreversible” strategy to have the UK return to pre-Covid life on July 19, given the continued success of the vaccination campaign.
The new health secretary, Sajid Javid, struck a similar tone, promising to work towards life returning to normal as quickly as possible. “It’s going to be irreversible. There’s no going back,” he told reporters on Monday.
David Nabarro, one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) seven special envoys on Covid-19 preparedness and response, told RT that, while he understands the urge of officials in the UK and elsewhere to present a clear timetable for lifting the lockdown restrictions, such over-optimistic statements were ill-advised.
“You can be pretty certain that this virus is going to take advantage of opportunities to move around – particularly if suddenly a lot of people come together at events,” he said. “[If] we’re going to say, ‘We’re going to break free, and we’re not going to be troubled by the virus, and there’s no turning back’, it’s a bit [like being] a hostage to fortune.”
Nabarro warned that the dropping infection rate could quickly bounce back after the planned “freedom day” and ultimately lead to more deaths, followed by another wave of restrictions.
Do we really want to be boxed into a corner where we’ve said, ‘Oh no, we can’t go back’? Is that good governance? I’m not sure.
The WHO envoy noted that, when relying on immunization, officials must consider the emergence of new coronavirus variants that are more transmissible and fatal than the original.
“The one thing we’ve learned about Covid is that things change from month to month,” Nabarro said, adding that vaccination efforts should go hand in hand with other protective measures, such as maintaining physical distance.
“Living with this virus means being able to defend against it,” he said.
The UK government reported 26,068 new cases on Wednesday, the highest number since January 29, bringing the overall number of recorded infections since the start of the pandemic to 4,800,907.
A total of 116 people died from Covid-19 during the week ending June 18. The overall number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK stands at 152,606.
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