A British government medical advisor has admitted that a so-called ‘Plan C’ for dealing with Covid-19 over the Winter has “been mentioned”, despite a minister denying last week that such plans, which could include a ban on households mixing, had been discussed.
Plan B measures could be brought in if hospital admissions rise and could see the return of mask mandates and working from home, and even the introduction of domestic vaccine passports for entering large social venues.
Last week, health minister Edward Argar said he was unaware that there existed a “Plan C”, should Plan B fail, which media reports at the time claimed were being considered by government and could see a ban on gatherings over Christmas.
However, Prof Lucy Chappell, the chief scientific adviser for the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), told MPs on Tuesday that such plans have “been mentioned”, even referring to them as “Plan C”, in comments reported by The Guardian.
Professor Chappell told the Science and Technology Select Committee on Covid Transmission, when asked whether failure to bring in Plan B measures now could result in tougher restrictions later: “I think it suggests that plan A and plan B and whatever the plan C looks like are mutually exclusive, but they are not.”
Asked whether Plan C existed, Chappell said that “it has been proposed … The name has been mentioned. It has not been extensively worked up,” but that “at the moment, the focus is on plan B”.
Boris Johnson’s government denied there was a Plan C, with a spokesman telling Sky News: “As we have repeatedly made clear, there is no Plan C. We knew the coming months would be challenging which is why we set out our Plan A and Plan B for autumn and winter last month.
“We are monitoring all the data closely and the government remains committed to taking further action if necessary to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed.”
The NHS Confederation, which represents bodies that deliver NHS services, and the British Medical Association, a doctors’ union, had been pressuring the government to impose Plan B now.
Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the Chinese coronavirus case rates as “encouraging” and that “we see nothing currently to suggest a move to Plan B.”
“We recognise there are significant challenges in the NHS which is why we’re putting in immediate investment, further investment, into our health service,” Prime Minister Johnson said.