Questions raised over unusual time to change Covid testing

Northumberland County Council’s health boss has admitted there is “no right time” to change Covid restrictions after free testing ended in England.

By James Robinson
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 10:38 am
Health bosses have admitted there is “no right time” to change Covid restrictions after free testing ended in England.
Health bosses have admitted there is “no right time” to change Covid restrictions after free testing ended in England.

And she warned the next couple of years could be quite bumpy.

The council’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, was outlining how the county will deal with Covid-19 moving forward at a meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny committee.

Ms Morgan presented a report on the changes proposed by Government on the so-called Living with Covid-19 plan, and the implications on managing the pandemic in Northumberland.

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She said: “In the week ending March 26, it is estimated we had around four million cases of Covid in England alone. You could be forgiven for asking why we are taking a change of approach at this particular time.

“What we do know is the pandemic is going to take its own course. There is probably no right time to do this.

"We can expect to operate in a period of turbulence for the next 18 months to two years.

“The good things are we’re heading into spring where the weather will be better and people will be mixing outdoors.

"Despite the high prevalence we’re not seeing hospital admissions and severe disease and death that we have seen.

"Some hospitals are still under pressure.”

The report stated that the county and the country as a whole can expect to see surges of infection over the next few years, and warned: “We cannot assume new variants will be less dangerous than those that we have already experienced.”

It also warned that individuals and families living on low incomes, in jobs which have “less favourable” sickness benefits “continue to be disadvantaged” when it comes to preventing transmission of Covvid-19 and called for a review of statutory sick pay.

Ms Morgan added: “I think the next couple of years are going to be quite bumpy.

"We can expect further waves of infection. Those waves won’t necessarily be less transmissible or less severe than the ones we’ve seen.

“Vaccination is still really important. We are probably going to need regular, if not annual, vaccination.”