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Sajid Javid has unveiled a five-pillar plan to fight Covid-19 in the coming autumn and winter months.
The government hopes that through the plan further national lockdowns can be avoided and risks posed by the pandemic can be mitigated.
The five pillars are:
- Testing, tracing and isolating
- Supporting health and social care
Pillar one will entail further strengthening pharmaceutical defenses against Covid-19, in particular vaccines.
Currently around six million people in the UK aged over 18 remain unvaccinated.
The government says it will “renew its efforts to maximise uptake amongst those that are eligible”.
Booster jabs will be offered to all over 50s this winter, and the NHS has been asked to prepare to offer first the first doses from next week.
Everyone in the clinically extremely vulnerable category, and anyone aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group group for Covid-19, will also be eligible for an additional dose under the plans.
Javid said that boosting the countries “pharmaceutical defences” were vital to controlling the pandemic, adding that further efforts would be make to encourage those who are “eligible but have not yet taken up the offer” of a jab.
The Health Secretary also said the government would move “with urgency” to begin vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds after the plans were approved by the country’s four Chief Medical Officers yesterday.
Pillar two involves continuing and further strengthening testing, tracing and isolating.
Over winter PCR tests will continue to be offered free of charge.
Contact tracing will continue through the NHS test and trace system, with those required to self-isolate continuing to be offered financial assistance.
Pillar three is continuing to support health and social care: Javid cited a £5.4 billion cash injection that will be given to NHS England to help fight backlogs.
Pillar four will involve the government advising people on how to protect themselves and others through measures including wearing face coverings and hand washing.
Letting fresh air in when meeting indoors and staying home when feeling unwell are other steps the government will continue encouraging.
Finally, pillar five will involve managing risks at the border and pursuing an “international approach” to vaccination.
The government will shortly set out a new framework for international travel, which will be revealed before October 1.
The UK will also “continue to engage bilaterally with key international partners” and pursue a “leading role” in intergovernmental discussions on the global response to the pandemic.
Speaking in the Commons today, the Health Secretary also announced a host of “Plan B” measures, which could be introduced if “unsustainable” pressures begin to mount on the NHS.
“Any responsible government must prepare for all eventualities.”
Health secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons that legally-mandated face masks, work from home guidance and vaccine passports could be reintroduced this winter if coronavirus cases spike pic.twitter.com/EAKpoA0l0O
— PoliticsHome (@politicshome) September 14, 2021
The measures include legally mandating face coverings in some settings and possibly introducing vaccine passports.
Vaccinee certification would be introduced for all nightclubs, and “indoor, crowded settings” with 500 or more attendees, such as music venues.
They would also be required in other for outdoor events with 4,000 or more visitors, such as festivals while any event with 10,000 or more attendees, including large sports and music venues would be required to implement the certification system.
Working from home where possible could also become mandatory “for a limited time if that is supported by the data”.
“Any responsible government must prepare for all eventualities,” Javid said.
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