Rising hospital admissions could trigger Government's Covid Plan B

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid declined to put a number on how many cases or admissions would trigger Plan B

Published

Pressures on A&E and increasing hospital admissions could trigger the Government’s Plan B for tackling Covid, the Health Secretary said as he refused to rule out another lockdown.

Sajid Javid defended not bringing in more stringent measures now, as set out in the Government’s winter plan for tackling the virus, saying vaccines, boosters and new treatments offer “a very strong” package of tools at present.

He denied the UK is in the same position as this time last year, saying the “big, big difference” is that vaccines are offering a strong line of defence against Covid-19.

He told Sky News: “We’ve also got to have plans in place, just in case, for example, there is a new variant of concern – let’s say, (it’s) highly infectious, has some kind of vaccine-escape capability – we’ve got to prepare for that and have things ready to go just in case.”

Asked if a new variant would be the trigger point for a move to Plan B, he said: “No, a dangerous new variant would be of course of huge significant concern, but there could be other issues."

“I think we’re going to have to look at a number of measures… so of course that would be the level of hospitalisation, it will be the pressures on A&E, the pressures on the workforce, so we’d have to take all of these together…”

However, he declined to put a number on how many cases or admissions would trigger Plan B.

Under the blueprint set out by the Government on Tuesday, Plan B includes measures such as vaccine passports, mandatory face masks and advice to work from home.

Mr Javid told Sky News there are no “risk-free” options.

“It is right that experts are looking at what is happening and come up with their best guess of where things might go based on certain assumptions,” he said.

“Back when we made the Step 4 decision, there were also experts saying that case rates are going to surge to 200,000, hospitalisations are going to go to 2,000 to 3,000 a day – don’t do it.

“We have to listen to them but eventually make what we think is the right decision.

“There is no risk-free decision, but I think what we have announced in terms of this plan is well thought through.”

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson will face renewed scrutiny over his proposals from MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions.