Sage evidence showed that Government advice to work from home would be the most effective measure, compared with mask wearing and the introduction of Covid passports
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Government scientists have told Boris Johnson he needs to act now with Plan B measures if Britain wants to reverse surging Covid cases as we go into winter.
Advice to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet has been published in minutes of a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on October 14.
Ministers were warned that “earlier intervention would reduce the need for more stringent, disruptive, and longer-lasting measures”.
Sage evidence showed that Government advice to work from home would be the most effective measure, compared with mask wearing and the introduction of Covid passports.
Despite rising Covid confirmed cases hitting 50,000 and expected to double in the coming weeks, ministers have refused to enact such Plan B measures instead insisting the pressure on the NHS is “sustainable”.
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The Sage document stated: “Modelling suggests that the stringency of measures required to control transmission of a growing epidemic is increased by a faster doubling time.
“In the event of increasing case rates, earlier intervention would reduce the need for more stringent, disruptive, and longer-lasting measures.”
It continued: “There has been a decrease in self-reported precautionary behaviours such as wearing a face covering.
“Effective reintroduction of measures would require clear and positive public communications (providing sufficient time for implementation), setting out expected impacts as well as scope, exemptions and approach to enforcement.
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“Reintroduction of working from home guidance is likely to have the greatest individual impact on transmission out of the proposed measures.
“Impact would be dependent on effectiveness of communication and guidance, employer response, and the proportion of workers able to work from home who were not already doing so at the time of implementation.
“It was noted that ‘presenteeism’ may become an increasing reason for spread in the workplace and that it will be important to communicate effectively to avoid this.”
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When asymptomatic infections are included experts believe Britain is already seeing around 100,000 new Covid infections a day. Overall hospitalisations increased by as much as 40% last week in some areas.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who chaired the remote meeting, has previously stated publicly that Government interventions to control Covid spread should be “harder, faster and earlier than you would like”.
Without them, Sage believes Covid cases will continue to rise.
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Daily numbers of hospital patients testing positive with Covid is expected to top 1,000 any day now. In total there are 8,142 Covid patients on wards in the UK now, all of whom require more space to isolate them from other patients.
Sage modelling found that numbers of hospitalised Covid patients are “are increasingly unlikely” to hit the 38,000 they reached at the peak in January 2021.
However, hospitals are likely to deal with a similar number, just over a more drawn out time period.
Separately, a group of independent scientists set up to mirror the Government advisory group has demanded Plan B measures are now introduced, that “have been shown to be effective in many countries including France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal”.
Professor Stephen Reicher, of the University of St Andrews, who site on the Independent Sage group, said: “This plan is not a call for lockdown.
“To the contrary, the failure to implement sensible and proportionate protections in the short term makes it more likely that we will need greater restrictions in the long term.
“Sajid Javid ’s decision to do nothing is the real lockdown plan.”