Coronavirus briefing: England is living with the virus

This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he was lifting remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, saying it was time to live with the virus.

Although he did not declare an end to the country’s health crisis, the move put his country ahead of most other European countries in terms of how quickly it hopes to return to normal life.

To get some insight into the approach, I spoke with Claire Moses, writer for The Morning in London.

What happened during this latest round of lifting restrictions?

Basically everything was lifted. Lots of things were already open – restaurants, pubs, cinemas, etc. – but now the last restrictions are also gone. This includes mask requirements, even on public transport in London, and legal requirements for isolation, even if you have the virus.

We also have access to free rapid tests, which we get through the National Health Service, but these will no longer be free after April 1. I suppose that will mean that people will stop getting tested, unless they are very sick, because nobody will say, “Let’s buy tests before we see each other.” It’s just not realistic.

What does the lifting of isolation requirements mean?

So if my test is positive, I don’t to have isolate. I’m still encouraged to stay home, but it’s no longer legally required. If you catch Covid or a bad flu, you’re probably going to do the right thing and stay home anyway. But since you hardly need to tell anyone if you test positive anymore – and after April you might not even know if you’re infected unless you pay for a test – that may change the math. for some people. Maybe you have a trip planned and you’re not going to cancel it. Or maybe you have a party or dinner you really want to go to, so you do. This makes assessing one’s personal risk very, very difficult.

Why is Boris Johnson doing this?

On the one hand, he says the virus is here to stay and we need to accept it and embrace it in our daily lives. But he’s also in the midst of a major political scandal here. There is a police investigation into whether he broke his own government’s lockdown rules by attending multiple parties. Its critics therefore say that lifting the remaining restrictions is a way to divert attention from this.

What are the health experts saying?

Health officials are extremely suspicious and NHS leaders have also said they are against ending free testing. Another thing to keep in mind is that lifting all restrictions does not protect vulnerable people. They warned politicians shouldn’t say the pandemic is over, because it’s not – Covid is still with us, and although cases have dropped dramatically, tens of thousands of people across the country are still testing positive every day.

The NHS also faces another crisis: the pandemic has compounded delays and backlogs. Millions of procedures have been delayed, including cancer screenings and essential care.

What’s new on Queen Elizabeth?

The Queen, who is 95, appears to have a mild case of Covid with ‘cold symptoms’. But she canceled her virtual appearances. According to the media here, she still performs some “light duties”. One such task, as reported by the BBC, is to “read state newspapers”.

How is life in London these days?

Everything is open. More and more people are starting to return to the office. I was on the subway, what we call the subway here, during rush hour this week, and it was busy. Even though it wasn’t enough as crowded as two years ago. The nightlife is on. The theaters are full – and the public seems extremely happy to be there. People are back in pubs. In many places in the city, it looks like we are living with Covid.

What does it do?

On the one hand, it feels good, because who doesn’t like normalcy? We love theatre. We love advertising. We like to kiss. We like to go to work… sometimes. But on the other hand, this pandemic has been very scary for everyone in different ways, and especially for older or more vulnerable people. So returning to a world where he seemingly doesn’t exist seems abrupt.

The World Health Organization has announced plans to establish a training center in South Korea to teach low- and middle-income countries how to produce their own mRNA vaccines. The effort, which aims to train 370 people from around the world starting in July, would help alleviate global vaccine inequities and shortages of skilled workers in the vaccine manufacturing industry, the agency said.

The announcement follows the organization’s continued efforts in South Africa to reverse engineer existing mRNA vaccines and share the technology with low-income countries, after attempts to cooperate with Pfizer and Moderna to share the technology failed. .

The WHO also said that African countries would be able to speed up their immunization programs due to a change in the vaccine distribution system.

Previously, the agency sent doses of vaccines to African countries as soon as they became available. But since January, countries can ask the WHO directly for the vaccines they need, specifying how much and when. As a result, they were able to dramatically scale up their vaccination efforts.

The continent was expected to meet the target of vaccinating 70% of the population by August 2024. But now, according to the WHO, it looks like that target could be reached in early 2023.

  • An average of about 90,000 Americans are being vaccinated daily, the lowest point since the early days of the campaign, the Associated Press reported.

  • Moderna said it expects to make at least $19 billion in Covid vaccine sales this year, CNBC reported.

  • The pandemic has increased the use of pills for abortions in the United States

  • Is the BA.2 version of Omicron worse? Here’s what you need to know.

  • A caravan of trucks, planned as a US version of last month’s chaotic protest in Canada, left California for Washington, DC

  • Hopeful corporate executives are once again planning for workers to return in person (fingers crossed).

  • A famous Broadway composer, who suffered from a long Covid for two years, resumes his old life, breath after breath.

Well, we did EVERYTHING right. We wore masks, ate all our meals with friends outside, got vaccinated twice and then boosted. We did it for about two years without getting infected. We caught the virus while skiing in Park City in January 2022, where we – again – did everything outdoors and wore our masks indoors. It was a super frustrating experience to have “played by the rules” and still get sick. This experience definitely makes us want to live life a bit more, because not doing so hasn’t really paid the expected dividends.

— Ilene Winters, West Dover, Vermont.

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