A senior backbench Conversative party member and former Health Secretary has made a public plea to the government on Twitter to “close schools, borders, and ban all household mixing RIGHT AWAY”.
Former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt tweeted his thoughts on what policy measures are needed to get the virus under control.
Mr Hunt’s proposal to close all schools, shut borders and ban all household mixing would represent a significant increase in restrictions compared with current government policy, although the Prime Minister has said that tougher controls will “probably” be needed soon.
Mr Hunt highlighted recent figures which show that a third more hospital beds are being taken up by Covid patients in England now than during the first wave of the pandemic, and said that the new strain “is clearly having a massive impact”.
What measures are being proposed?
Writing on Twitter, Mr Hunt called for a review of the tier system, “so that the highest tier really does bring down infection levels,” as well as the closure of all schools, and bans on international travel and household mixing.
Mr Hunt acknowledged that the measures he has proposed are likely being considered by the government currently, but said that “even waiting an extra day causes many avoidable deaths”.
The former Health Secretary said the proposed restrictions would be “time limited to 12 weeks” in order to allow the vaccine to be distributed to the most vulnerable. He also recommended that frontline NHS staff should be put at the front of the queue for vaccinations.
Doesn’t the NHS always struggle in winter?
While some people who believe the current restrictions are sufficient have argued that the pressure currently seen in the health system is not significantly different to that which it faces generally at this time of year, Mr Hunt said this is “wrong”.
He said: “To those arguing winter is always this in the NHS:you are wrong. I faced four serious winter crises as Health Sec and the situation now is off-the-scale worse than any of those.
“It’s true that we often had to cancel elective care in Jan to protect emergency care but that too is under severe pressure with record trolley waits for the very sickest patients.”
He added: “Even more worryingly fewer heart attack patients appear to be presenting in ICUs, perhaps because they are not dialling 999 when they need to.”