From tomorrow ministers will launch what one source described as a “communications blitz” in the hope of persuading the public to do their bit to suppress the virus. It comes as the Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed more televised Covid press conferences are also planned to raise awareness of the ongoing threat.
Yesterday Health Secretary Sajid Javid led the first briefing from Downing Street in five weeks to plead with the public to continue getting vaccinations.
The UK has seen a considerable drop off in the uptake of jabs in recent weeks, with the country’s immunisation rate now lower than in countries in Europe.
Just 67 percent of the UK population has received two doses of vaccine, according to Government figures – compared with at least 75 percent in Denmark, 79 percent in Spain and 86 percent in Portugal.
School children agree 12-15 have been slow to get an injection and there are also concerns many over-50s eligible for a booster jab have not received one.
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Mr Javid said last night “we’ve all got a role to play” to stop the spread of the virus.
He warned failure to do so risked the NHS once again becoming overwhelmed by Covid admissions.
“If we all play our part, then we can give ourselves the best possible chance in this race, get through this winter, and enjoy Christmas with our loved ones,” he said.
Today the Prime Minister’s spokesman said more coronavirus press conferences could be expected in the coming weeks.
“I’m not going to set a timetable on them, as you know, we use them when we have updates for the public,” he said.
“I’m sure there will be more press conferences in the weeks and months ahead.”
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Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Sky News: “There’s a general sense that life’s gone back to normal and as a result the infection is being passed around.”
He added unless there is a “clear message put out that we’ve got more infection going on now than at any point in the pandemic”, people would fail to take the necessary predictions.
Yesterday there were 49,139 new coronavirus infections recorded in the UK.
Meanwhile, there were 179 new deaths and 869 new hospital admissions.
Ministers have come under pressure from scientists and medics to implement their “Plan B” for dealing with the virus, which includes making masks indoors compulsory and returning to work from home guidance.
Downing Street has said ministers will only activate the extra measures in England if they see the NHS coming under “significant pressure”.
“We knew the coming months would be challenging,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman said.
“We will be very carefully monitoring hospitalisation rates, admission rates, ICU (intensive care unit) rates, the usual metrics we have used through this pandemic to judge how our NHS is coping.”