Minister denies there is a Covid ‘plan C’ to ban Christmas mixing in England

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Current unit connected the NHS is “sustainable”, according to a wellness minister, who denied the authorities had a “plan C” that would prohibition the mixing of households astatine Christmas successful England if cases continued to rise.

Edward Argar told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that portion the NHS was “under immense pressure” it was not the close clip to present immoderate further measures to power the dispersed of Covid.

The British Medical Council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, accused ministers of being “wilfully negligent” aft the wellness caput ruled retired instantly implementing the government’s coronavirus “plan B”.

Nagpaul said: “It is wilfully negligent of the Westminster authorities not to beryllium taking immoderate further enactment to trim the dispersed of infection, specified arsenic mandatory disguise wearing, carnal distancing and ventilation requirements successful high-risk settings, peculiarly indoor crowded spaces. These are measures that are the norm successful galore different nations.”

Argar urged radical to get vaccinated to assistance “ease that unit connected the NHS”. He said program A was inactive working, adding: “It’s a contention … betwixt the vaccines, and getting those successful people’s arms, and the virus. We’re inactive winning that contention astatine the moment, but it’s narrowing, that pb is narrowing. So what we request to bash is that sprint for the line.”

On Wednesday the wellness secretary, Sajid Javid, predicted caller infections could deed a grounds 100,000 a time and urged millions of eligible radical to travel guardant for booster jabs. Javid urged radical to deterioration masks successful crowded places and trial themselves earlier going to Christmas parties.

But the authorities has been accused of sending mixed messages, with astir Conservative MPs declining to deterioration masks successful the House of Commons oregon successful packed furniture meetings, and the concern secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, encouraging the public to publication Christmas parties.

On Thursday a starring virologist said the UK was astir apt already adjacent to 100,000 cases a day. Dr Chris Smith, from the University of Cambridge, said fractional of Covid cases were asymptomatic, meaning the fig of progressive cases successful the UK was apt acold higher than presently recorded, “we conscionable don’t cognize astir tons of them”.

Pushed astir Conservative MPs wearing masks, Argar said determination was a “leadership relation for members of parliament connected each sides”, adding: “I deliberation it’s for those idiosyncratic members of parliament to work the guidance, see it, carnivore successful caput what Sajid has said and scope their ain views.”

Argar was asked astir comments from the UK government’s main technological adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who said it was important to enactment earlier it appeared necessary.

Argar told Sky News: “I deliberation what Patrick’s saying determination is you’ve got to look ahead. We cognize that you person a pb clip of 2 weeks astir betwixt infections and hospitalisations, and for the 2 weeks between, sadly, hospitalisations and deaths successful the astir superior cases.

“I deliberation what Patrick saying is ever look to the future, see erstwhile is the close infinitesimal to enactment … I don’t deliberation we’re astatine that constituent yet.”

Argar denied determination was a program C being considered by the authorities which would prohibition the mixing of households astatine Christmas, arsenic reported in the Daily Telegraph. “That isn’t thing that is being actively considered,” helium said.

Asked connected Sky News however atrocious the concern successful the NHS would person to get earlier the authorities moved to program B, helium said it would not “be due to acceptable an arbitrary figure, X fig of infections, X fig of hospitalisations”.

Bed occupancy levels were 1 measurement of whether the pressures connected the NHS were sustainable, helium told Times Radio. With 95,000 beds crossed the infirmary strategy available, 7,000 were occupied with Covid patients and 6,000 were unoccupied.

“We bash person a grade of headroom astatine this time, we proceed to show it hr by hour, time by day, to spot what’s happening with those figures, some successful presumption of infection, but besides crucially successful presumption of hospitalisation,” helium said. “Our appraisal astatine the infinitesimal is the astir effectual mode to proceed to power that is for radical to get those booster jabs.”

He said radical should nary longer hold to beryllium invited to get their booster vaccine if the close magnitude of clip had passed, arsenic they could publication it themselves online.