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Friday, December 9, 2022
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We could be heading for another ‘winter lockdown’ amid fresh fears over NHS

Boris Johnson wants to keep the Coronavirus Act law until March 2022, when it will lapse after two years in position.

The extension of the legislation is due to growing concerns that we could be forced into another winter lockdown if the NHS starts to struggle during the colder months.

The law gives police and authorities powers to close premises, restrict public gatherings, and force people to self-isolate.

A Government spokesman said: “We will allow temporary powers in the Coronavirus Act to expire wherever possible, as we have at previous review points.

“However, it would be irresponsible to allow all temporary provisions to expire.

“Doing so would remove the government’s ability to protect renters from eviction, give sick pay to those self-isolating from day one, and direct schools to reopen where needed, for example.

“The British public would expect us to retain these powers in case they are needed through the winter.”

In December last year, Boris Johnson made a quick and devastating decision to impose a lockdown over Christmas. He said the country needed “to protect the NHS” which he said was in danger of being overwhelmed by Covid.

The Department for Health said there has been a rise in the number of intensive care beds by 1,700 in the same period which should ensure the NHS is prepared for winter this year.

Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre of Oxford university’s evidence based medicine said: “If I were the chief medical officer, I would consider an urgent review about what capacity is required. There is roughly a 20 percent increase in winter, due to the impact of acute respiratory pathogens.

“The difference between admissions in August for respiratory diseases in winter can be as much as 15,000 a month ‑ at least 15 percent of the hundred thousand capacity we currently have in place for adults.

“This is why we run into an annual winter crisis. We haven’t yet solved this crisis in the 20-plus years I’ve been a doctor. The public was told last March that they needed to lock down to protect the NHS. I don’t think we can use that excuse again if we haven’t prepared for the inevitable winter increase.”