Boris Johnson poised to announce an England-wide lockdown, as SAGE predicts radical increase in Covid-19 infections this winter, despite alarming economic effects.
An alarming report from the United Kingdom’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) appears to have convinced Boris Johnson’s government that an urgent nationwide lockdown is required to be implemented immediately. The Prime Minister will be announcing the details imminently.
According to the report, which was issued on the 14th October, the situation in Britain is thought to be on the brink of surpassing even the worst expectations for England previously estimated in a so-called ‘Winter Planning Strategy’ in the run up to Christmas, which the British government had been working on.
In total, throughout the four countries that comprise the United Kingdom, estimates are for 52,000 infections per day and up to 85,000 deaths (4,000 a day).
In a cruel twist to this catastrophe, the Macmillan Cancer Support Foundation says that the impact of the pandemic has already been such that up to 50,000 cancer sufferers may have already gone undiagnosed as the National Health Service’s resources and have gone into dealing with the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Macmillan’s Head of Policy in Scotland said: “It’s extremely worrying that there are so many people missing from the cancer care system. Delays in diagnoses can lead to unnecessary deaths, as well as people facing more serious treatments that leave them with long term health issues.”
Although there is widespread decline in trust among the general public in Britain caused by the perceived failure of the government to articulate coherent policies since March, it would appear that there is consensus in the scientific community that assertive measures have to be taken with immediate effect.
Johnson’s popularity ratings have plummeted because of what some see as garbled messages and confusion coming from London. There is a growing body of opinion in the ruling Conservative party that the Prime Minister should be replaced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak who is widely thought to present in a more credible way than Mr. Johnson.
The regional governments of Scotland and Wales have been distancing themselves from London, and there has been a resurgence in the independence movements in both those countries.
Scotland and Wales have implemented more stringent lockdown measures for several weeks now.
But, the fear is that the loss of confidence, not just within political circles, but also the epidemiologists, and indeed the World Health Organisation, will make it more difficult to convince the public of the need to take seriously the measures being called for. Reports of senior officials and scientists breaking lockdown rules have had a demoralising effect on the British public.
It is expected that non-essential shops will close until the 1st December, as will all centres of education.
The hospitality industry, which has already been hit very hard, faces weeks of closure. Scientists from the University of Warwick have claimed that the government-sponsored campaign “Eat Out to Help Out”, which was aimed at supporting the food and beverages sector, increased the number of cases by as much as 17%.
These findings have been questioned by other epidemiologists, but highlight the seemingly impossible challenge, not just for the British government, but throughout Europe to balance the interests of personal health and the health of the economy, which seem likely to converge at some point soon.
Johnson’s cabinet has been wrestling with the problem that a full lockdown will decimate the economy with untold consequences in terms of unemployment, poverty and health but Johnson appears to have opted to follow France, Germany and a Spain by stopping any attempt at a balancing act and focussing exclusively on bringing cases down.