As the government prepared to expand the list of critical workers exempted from self-isolation rules in England, new data showed the UK registered 29,173 new cases on Sunday, up from 48,161 a week earlier.
Javid’s tweet over the weekend, which was later deleted, that people should live with the virus without fear reflected growing optimism in government circles that Boris Johnson was right to lift most of the remaining restrictions. in England on July 19.
The UK’s number of cases is now down 15.4% week-on-week, the first time it has fallen for five consecutive days since February. Ministers say the end of school terms in England just over a week ago may have helped.
They remain prepared to face upward pressure on the number of cases later in the week as the effects of ‘Freedom Day’ – including the reopening of nightclubs – begin to be felt in the data.
But Javid’s comment that people should get vaccinated and learn to live with Covid ‘rather than hiding from the virus’ suggested ministers no longer expect a very disruptive third wave peak of 100,000 cases daily.
Following Labor criticism that he insulted millions of people, Javid a this: “I was expressing my gratitude for the fact that vaccines help us fight as a society, but it was a bad choice of word and I sincerely apologize. “
The Health Secretary, who said he had “fully recovered” from his own bout of Covid, added: “Like many, I have lost loved ones to this terrible virus and I will not minimize never its impact. “
Boris Johnson’s allies told the Mail on Sunday that, like his hero Margaret Thatcher, the PM was “not to turn around” and believes he was right to lift most restrictions last week.
“Barring the emergence of a terrible new variant, Boris is going to keep his cool and stick to the plot,” one said.
Nonetheless, ministers are looking to introduce mandatory Covid vaccination passports at key events in the fall after Johnson signaled people attending nightclubs would be required to prove they had been double stung.
Home Secretary Kit Malthouse called reports they might need during Premier League football matches “speculation”. However, ministers want to increase pressure on young people to get vaccinated.
The largest increase in infections occurred among the youngest adults, the last age group to become eligible for the vaccine and the one with the lowest participation. Government modelers told ministers the third wave of coronavirus infections could peak in mid-August.
The short-term easing of the number of cases could increase pressure on employers struggling with staff shortages caused by a “pingemia” of workers being asked to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a job. person with Covid.
Ministers will meet on Monday to discuss expanding the list of exemptions from self-isolation rules, where employees can be tested to allow them to continue working rather than staying home for 10 days.
Government officials said they did not expect a “great expansion” of the list, which already covers some food workers as well as border officials and workers in sectors such as energy, telecommunications. and transport.
“There will be more testing sites to support key workers,” an official said, adding that staff working on garbage collection could be among the categories added.
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee warned that the “estimated lifetime cost” of the government’s response to the pandemic reached £ 372 billion in May 2021 and exposed the taxpayer to “significant financial risks for decades to come. “.
In two reports released on Sunday, MPs concluded that taxpayers had been left behind for around £ 26bn in credit losses and fraud under the ‘rebound loan scheme’ for small businesses. They also found that despite spending more than £ 10bn on supplies, the country’s stock of protective gear was ‘not fit for purpose’.