Evening Standard Comment: End the Covid ‘pingdemic’ isolation farce

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 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

Labour leader Keir Starmer has called on the Government to bring forward the date on which double vaccinated people in England do not have to self-isolate should they get notified. In other words, to accelerate the end of the pingdemic to match that of Wales on August 7. He is right.

Nearly 700,000 people were sent self-isolation alerts by the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales in the week to July 21 — an 11 per cent rise on the week before.

The requirement to self-isolate, even for those who have received both doses, has severely disrupted a wide range of sectors, threatening our economic recovery.

Meanwhile, public confidence has been damaged by the sometimes chaotic messaging around whether self-isolating was a legal requirement.

It may only be nine days, but those days that will help businesses struggling to stay open after 18 months of hardship.

Credit to Boris Johnson

The Government and our Prime Minister do however deserve credit following the decision to hold their nerve and lift most restrictions on July 19.

This was despite projections from scientists warning of 100,000 infections a day, figures now seemingly disowned by those very people.

We cannot say for certain why infections have not risen. Probably a mixture of many factors. One compelling reason is that the public continued to act cautiously; personal responsibility won.

That is not to be complacent. As Jonathan Van-Tam warned yesterday, we face “bumpy” autumn and winter.

In London, that remains acute: vaccination is our best protection against the virus yet the capital lags behind the rest of the country. Some 65.6 per cent of Londoners have had a first dose and 49.6 per cent a second, compared with 88.4 per cent and 71.4 per cent nationwide.

Herd immunity will play a part but it’s not enough to restore confidence if infections roar upwards again in September with the return to the office, school and central London. Even if hospitalisations and deaths remain lower than last winter.

Our city has a young population and we urgently need more action by the Mayor and Government to convince the hesitant to get jabbed.

We think the fear of missing out on travel, clubs and university halls is a great start. President Joe Biden is now asking US states to offer $100 to get more people vaccinated.

We have long supported the roll-out of vaccine passports, without which those freedom-loving Tory doubters are going to see freedoms curbed once again.

So our message to Londoners is unchanged and unwavering — get vaccinated and let’s enjoy all our city has to offer.

Read More

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