Responding to reports that the final lockdown easing on June 21 in England could be delayed, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“The Government must hold off making a final decision on whether lockdown is fully lifted on June 21 until latest data can be scientifically considered - the Prime Minister had pledged he would be guided by ‘data not dates’, and it’s vital that he now honours this commitment.
“We are at a pivotal moment in battling against the virus in the UK, and with the 21st June date signifying an end to all legal restrictions and allowing normal social mixing of people. Yet since the roadmap was announced, we have seen the emergence of a highly-transmissible new variant and significant escalation of cases – and in the last week a reversal of a downward trend into seeing increases in hospital admissions and deaths. At the same time, we know the second vaccine doses are critical to controlling the spread of the new variant.
“A premature ending of all legal restrictions which then resulted in a surge of infections would undermine our health service’s efforts to tackle the biggest level of backlog of care it has ever faced. It would also add further demands on staff who are exhausted, both mentally and physically.
“We have come a long way in delivering an extremely successful vaccination programme, which has allowed significant relaxation of rules and social interaction together with opening up of non-essential retail and hospitality. It's vital we do not undo this progress, and take a precautionary approach to easing restrictions altogether, to prevent any rebound surge in infections. Vaccinating enough of the adult population with the second dose will be key, remembering that younger adults are also at risk of developing long Covid which can take a toll on their chronic health.
“It’s clear that Government must act with maximum caution when considering whether to go ahead with lifting restrictions on June 21. We cannot afford to repeat past mistakes, which would result in greater levels of serious illness and loss of lives, including adding pressures to our overstretched NHS.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
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