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UK health minister calls additional COVID curbs ‘last resort’ amid record cases

Associated Press/Alberto Pezzali

The U.K.’s health minister wrote on Friday that COVID-19 restrictions such as lockdowns must be the “last resort,” even as England witnesses a record number of COVID-19 cases.

“Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and the British people rightly expect us to do everything in our power to avert them,” Sajid Javid wrote in the Daily Mail.

“Since I came into this role six months ago, I’ve also been acutely conscious of the enormous health, social and economic costs of lockdowns. So I’ve been determined that we must give ourselves the best chance of living alongside the virus and avoiding strict measures in the future.”

Javid pointed to steps the government has taken to curb further spread of COVID-19, including offering COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all adults, increasing testing supplies and securing antiviral COVID-19 treatments. 

The U.K. health minister said he had also been in contact with the National Health Service about increasing bed capacity and hiring close to 20,000 clinical staff since September 2020.

He urged everyone to get the vaccine and booster if they were eligible and had not yet already done so, to get tested often and keep others safe.

Official data indicated that England had reached a record number of cases on Saturday, with 162,572 new infections, The Guardian reported.

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers, tweeted that the government should be ready to announce new restrictions as needed.

“Pressure and trust leader concern mounting as hospitalisations increase. Next few days crucial. London hospitalisation rates could plateau echoing community infection rates as we hit Xmas. Or they could rise on the back of intergenerational Xmas mixing…” Hopson wrote.

“So we still need to watch and wait. Govt must be ready to introduce new restrictions at pace if they’re needed.”

Tags COVID-19 omicron Sajid Javid United Kingdom

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