politics

When will Boris Johnson announce Living With Covid plan – and what is it?


Despite high numbers of daily coronavirus cases due to the Omicron variant, Boris Johnson and his government are set to press ahead with a new ‘Living With Covid’ strategy

Boris Johnson is understood to be drawing up the plans for the new strategy
Boris Johnson is understood to be drawing up the plans for the new strategy

Despite the nation’s total coronavirus death toll passing over 150,000 at the weekend, Boris Johnson ‘s government is now preparing a new “living with Covid” strategy.

It’s believed that plans are being drawn up for the next phase of managing Covid-19, which is expected to include a guide as to how the UK can return to normality.

Downing Street believes the virus is on the path to becoming endemic – it just depends how long that takes.

This means that while many will continue to become infected, the danger to life will be less than it has been over the past years.

“That is certainly our expectation that at some point that’s where we will get to,” the PM’s spokesman said.

“That has been the nature of previous epidemics, previous pandemics, that is the advice we’ve received…. exactly what point we’re on is still too early to say.”

In the last seven days at the time of writing, 1,217,097 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK while another 1,295 have lost their lives.

When will the living with Covid strategy be announced?







The scheme is expected to see a number of changes in day to day management of the pandemic
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Image:

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

An official announcement for the strategy is expected by March, according to the i newspaper.

However, it has been stated that the changes won’t be seen while the Omicron wave remains prolific, despite significant resistance from Tory backbenchers.

And No10 described the timing as speculation, saying no publication is expected this week.

There will always be updates, No10 said, but “the exact format of that and what it will look like has not been decided”.

Speaking to Sky News, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro, said: “I’m afraid we are moving through the marathon but there’s no actual way to say that we’re at the end – we can see the end in sight, but we’re not there.

“And there’s going to be some bumps before we get there.”

What will ‘Living With Covid’ likely involve?

While the exact details of the new strategy are still being drawn up, the Mirror has reported on a range of changes that either have been introduced already, or are expected to be introduced.

Headline changes could :

  • Scrapping of lateral flow tests are anticipated – the government announced this last year, but didn’t say when it would happen. There’s still no date.
  • Shorter isolation periods – Boris Johnson today said he is looking at the idea of shortening it from seven days to five, though No10 stressed there is no set time scale.
  • PCR test scrapping for the asymptomatic – this is happening from January 11 in England, but only temporarily. Confirmatory PCR tests for asymptomatic people who test positive by lateral flow will be brought back at a later date.
  • End to most social distancing and other rules – social distancing has already been brought to an end to a great extent in England, but work from home guidance, mask mandates and Covid passes are all still in place under Plan B. These expire at the end of January, and could be extended, but Boris Johnson will face pressure to end them.
  • No more PCR tests for travellers entering the UK – these have been scrapped for vaccinated travellers as the Omicron variant is so widespread. But ministers have not ruled out bringing them back again in future, if a new variant surges abroad.

Which countries have suffered the most Covid-related deaths?

The news of the new plan comes as the UK becomes just the seventh country in the world that have suffered 150,000 deaths from the virus – the first in Europe.

We have listed each of the countries to reach the grim milestone and the rate of deaths per 100,000 to give an indication of the scale of each country’s loses.

Case data has been gathered by the Johns Hopkins University and per 100,000 data from CNN Health. Data is correct to Monday, January 10, 2022.

  • United States, 837,664 deaths – 255 per 100,000
  • Brazil, 126,427 deaths – 294 per 100,000
  • India, 483,936 deaths – 35 per 100,000
  • Russia, 310,513 deaths – 215 per 100,000
  • Mexico, 300,334 deaths – 235 per 100,000
  • Peru, 203,019 deaths – 624 per 100,000
  • UK, 150,634 deaths – 225 per 100,000

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