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Sajid Javid has defended that government’s Covid winter plan after scientists warned of a potential new wave of hospital admissions.
Scientists advising the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned the burden on the NHS could rise “very quickly” as people returned to their offices after working from home.
But speaking on Sky News, the health secretary said there were no “risk-free” options.
“It is right that experts are looking at what is happening and come up with their best guess of where things might go based on certain assumptions,” he said.
“We have to listen to them but eventually make what we think is the right decision. There is no risk-free decision but I think what we have announced in terms of this plan, is well thought through.”
Javid said increasing hospital admissions could trigger the government’s Plan B for tackling Covid as he refused to rule out another lockdown.
“What happens in the NHS is going to be hugely important to me, to the whole country, making sure that we don’t get to a position again where the NHS becomes unsustainable,” he said.
“If the situation – and it is an ‘if’ – gets out of control, if for example there was a new vaccine-escape variant which no-one can predict, whether it happens or not, we will of course have to act and take new measures.”
But he declined to put a number on how many cases or admissions would trigger Plan B.
Under the blueprint set out by the Government on Tuesday, Plan B includes measures such as vaccine passports, mandatory face masks and advice to work from home.
Boris Johnson was yesterday also urged by his chief scientific adviser on Tuesday to go hard and early if the pandemic significantly worsens.
Patrick Vallance said the nation is at a “pivot point” and told ministers to react swiftly if cases quickly rise, warning “you can’t wait until it’s late because you’ve got to do more”.