” The United Kingdom – at least England –, is the freest country in Europe ” welcomed David Frost, the British Minister for Europe alluding to the Covid-19 pandemic in a speech dedicated to Brexit on Tuesday, October 12. “Regarding the Covid, we have chosen a balance between reopening and hospital pressure, which we can stick to”, added the former chief divorce negotiator with the European Union. These words summarize the Johnson government’s bias since the summer: we must “Living with the virus” repeat its members, the spring vaccination campaign having been a success (78.7% of double vaccinated among those over 12 years old), health restrictions are no longer necessary.
But this “freedom” has a price: Wednesday, 42,776 new contaminations were recorded in twenty-four hours, the highest for three months. And over the last seven days, the daily average of contaminations was almost 32,000. As for deaths, they still oscillate between 100 and 150 per day (136 Wednesday), sadly high levels even if they have nothing to do with it. with those observed during the first wave (spring 2020) and the second (winter 2020). Currently, 7,000 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized in the UK and the number of admissions is around 700 per day. Hospitals are far from saturated as of early 2021 but doctors are complaining of additional pressure as the NHS (the national hospital system) must pass a huge waiting list (more than 5 million) of patients, waiting care or deferred operations due to the pandemic.
In the Midlands and the north of England, the most affected since the start of the health crisis, more than 400 people had the coronavirus, out of 100,000 in the past seven days. These infection levels are hardly surprising: in England, more people wear the mask on public transport, shops or crowded places (it is however still compulsory in Scotland). No health pass system has been imposed, despite the Johnson government’s (timid) attempts in early September. Contact cases no longer need to isolate themselves if they are doubly vaccinated. No one wore the mask at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in early October in Manchester, despite the confined atmosphere and the thousands in attendance. The mask, however, was still (a little) de rigueur at the annual Labor congress a week earlier in Brighton, “libertarians” allergic to social distancing being much more numerous in the Tory camp than Labor.
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