UK Covid live: minister rules out further lockdown as rising cases prompt calls for action

Good morning. It has been a while since Covid has been leading the news but cases in the UK are going up, and they are now far higher than they are in most other European countries. As we reported overnight, the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals and other NHS trusts, is saying ministers must urgently implement sweeping “plan B” winter measures or derail efforts to tackle the backlog of 5 million patients.

This morning Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, has been on microphone duty for the government. On Sky News he was asked about a suggestion from Prof Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at St Andrews University and one of the government’s science advisers, that the government’s refusal to act now made a future lockdown more likely.

Stephen Reicher
(@ReicherStephen)

No-one WANTS to re-introduce restrictions.
We will only be forced into restrictions if we fail to introduce the protections that other countries have used to control the delta variant.
More than ever, it is clear that the ‘do nothing’ advocates are the real lockdown party. pic.twitter.com/jMSJeu3wE1


October 19, 2021

Kwarteng said he would rule out another lockdown. He told the programme:


No, I would rule that out. Clearly, throughout this process there have been people saying the lockdown was unnecessary, and there’s been other people saying we should continue to lock down. We’ve really plotted a path between those two extremes. I think it has worked. And that is one of the reasons we’ve got the fastest growing economy in the G7.

I will post from from his interviews about Covid, and other matters, shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner, gives evidence to the London assembly on the safety of women and girls in the capital following the deaths of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

11am: Sarah Crew, temporary chief constable for Avon and Somerset police and the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for rape and adult sexual offences, gives evidence to the Commons home affairs committee inquiry into the prosecution of rape. Other policing figures, and legal experts, are also giving evidence.

12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.

2.30pm: Katharine Birbalsingh is questioned by the Commons women and equalities committee about her proposed appointment as chair of the Social Mobility Commission.

3pm: Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, gives evidence to a joint hearing of the Commons science and transport committees about Cop26.

3pm: Sir Stephen Lovegrove, the national security adviser, gives evidence to the joint committee on the national security strategy about the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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