Britain Will Lead World in Learning to Live with COVID, Says Govt Minister

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 19: A protester holds a sign stating Enough is enough with the Churchill statue looking on as part of a freedom demonstration on July 19, 2021 in London, England. Anti-lockdown protests have been a feature of the Coronavirus Pandemic across the UK uniting the anarchist left …
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Britain may lead the world in learning to “deal with” the Chinese coronavirus, Education minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly drafting plans to return to normality.

While Britain faced some of the most stringent lockdown restrictions in the Western World at the outset of the Wuhan virus pandemic, England has of late become one of the freest nations in Europe in terms of lockdowns. Appearing to shrug off early omicron-variant panic, government and healthcare leaders have signalled that there is room for optimism in terms of returning to normal.

In an interview with Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Education minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “I hope we will be one of the first major economies to demonstrate to the world how you transition from pandemic to endemic, and then deal with this however long it remains with us, whether that’s five, six, seven, 10 years.”

Strikingly, top officials at the National Health Service (NHS) have backed off their typically lockdown-happy stance, with the chief executive of NHS Provider, Chris Hopson seemingly validating Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to not impose more winter restrictions, saying that the health service’s “front line will hold”.

The director of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter told Times Radio that Mr Johnson “may have got away with” his “gamble” to hold off on additional lockdowns.

“This isn’t going to come down quickly, and it’s going to be unbelievably tough for the NHS, but in terms of the really severe outcomes, then I think we know we can be a bit more optimistic,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is reportedly drafting plans for a “living with COVID” strategy expected to be implemented by March.

According to a report from The i newspaper, unnamed Downing Street sources believe that the omicron variant is markedly milder than previous strains of the Chinese virus and therefore may signal that the pandemic may be waning in severity.

In response, the report claimed that the government is planning on reducing the scale of the government’s free testing regime, with the exception of those believed to be at higher risk. There are also signals that the government will look to decrease required isolation periods for those who test positive down to five days, in a bid to lessen the impact on businesses, schools, and hospitals.

Whether widespread ‘free’ testing will actually be coming to an end in the UK remains contested. Zahawi denied on Sunday that there were any plans to end the regime of testing, while cabinet colleague Michael Gove refused to rule it out the following day.

Despite the developments pressure on the government to further lockdown continues to be levelled from the establishment media. “It’s time for London’s unvaccinated to pay with their freedoms, not ours”, Emily Sheffield wrote in the Evening Standard on Saturday.

Sheffield, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister David Cameron, continued: “Maintaining that our ‘freedoms’ are threatened by vaccine passports is a bogus argument from the conservative Right that has fuelled the mad obstinacy of the unvaccinated.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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