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Boris Johnson is asked to think again as Wales beat us on end to ping farce

·3 min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Peter Cziborra/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Peter Cziborra/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson came under pressure on Friday to bring forward the August 16 ending of self-isolation for the double-jabbed who are “pinged” by the NHS contact-tracing app.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the Prime Minister to do a U-turn on this policy after the Labour administration in Wales said it will scrap this requirement on August 7.

Tory MPs are also criticising the August 16 date. Just days ago, Mr Johnson stressed it is “nailed on” that the rules will be changed on that day.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps left open the door that it could be brought forward if Covid cases fall, though they have risen in recent days after the ending of lockdown laws on July 19.

Asked if the date is set in stone, Mr Shapps told Sky News: “Right now that is the date. We’ll always keep these things under review but I don’t want to open up false hope for you, it’s not too far away now.”

Wales’s first minister Mark Drakeford on Thursday night confirmed August 7 as the day when double-jabbed adults can escape isolation if they come into contact with a positive case, instead being advised to take tests.

Scotland is also expected to remove the need for fully vaccinated people to isolate on August 9.

Sir Keir questioned why England should have a later timeline, saying this risks creating more pain for families and businesses.

“The Government has never been able to explain the logic of their self-isolation rules and has just repeated the same mistakes over and over again,” he said.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith also stressed “I simply don’t understand” the August 16 policy given the travel rules now allowing double-jabbed visitors to come into Britain from overseas.

Latest figures showed more than 689,000 people were “pinged” by the NHS contract-tracing app in the most recent week.

The Government is setting up 2,000 testing points for frontline workers exempt from isolation after being “pinged”, including those in prisons, waste collection, defence, the food industry, transport, Border Force and police and fire services.

Elsewhere, figures from Public Health England estimated Covid vaccines have prevented an estimated 22 million infections and 60,000 deaths in England.

The data also suggested jabs are believed to have directly averted more than 52,600 hospital admissions.Meanwhile, experts have expressed cautious optimism about the pandemic in the UK ending in the near future.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a scientist advising the Government as part of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), agreed with comments earlier this week made by Professor Neil Ferguson who said that by late September or October we will be “looking back at most of the pandemic”.

Professor Gupta told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that’s right, but we will potentially see more cases and more hospitalisation towards the winter.”

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