UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has said it was not the time to “speculate” on when the lockdown will end. The government must first hit its target on vaccinating high-risk groups of people, she stated.
Patel said the authorities would focus on protecting the NHS from being overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, and the relaxation of restrictions would wholly depend on how smoothly the rollout of the immunization campaign went.
“It is far too early to even speculate as to when lockdown measures will be eased and the restrictions will go. We are still in a perilous situation – I cannot emphasize that enough,” Patel told Sky News.
With the number of people still dying with coronavirus, with the number of hospital admissions increasing – this is no time to speak about the relaxation of measures, and we’re not going to do that.
The government has set a target of vaccinating 15 million people from high-risk groups by mid-February.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expressed the hope on Sunday that the lockdown might be eased by March.
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When asked about Raab’s remarks, Patel was less optimistic: “We are at a pivotal stage. Our vaccine rollout is underway, but we have a long way to go with vaccination.”
We cannot talk about easing restrictions and measures until we are absolutely clear we have vaccinated priority groups.
The rise of infections forced authorities to impose a third lockdown in England shortly after the New Year holiday, and later to place all services in London in emergency mode. The NHS chief for England, Simon Stevens, told the BBC on Sunday that a new Covid-19 patient was being admitted to a hospital every 30 seconds.
Health officials reported 33,355 new coronavirus cases across the UK on Tuesday, and 1,610 deaths, bringing the total death toll from Covid-19 to 91,470.
Patel called these numbers “horrendous,” but said she did not think it was “the time to talk about mismanagement” of the pandemic.
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