Wednesday briefing: ‘Plan B’ to protect NHS from winter surge

Greetings from me, Warren Murray, on this first Wednesday of the week.

Between 2,000 and 7,000 people a day could be hospitalised with Covid in England next month unless the government urgently implements a “basket of measures”, government scientific advisers have warned. Boris Johnson has confirmed that Covid passports, the return of mandatory mask-wearing and advice to work from home are only the government’s “plan B” if the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed.

Modellers on the Sage committee expect cases to rise in the coming months after almost all restrictions were lifted this summer. Even though 81% of UK adults are double-jabbed, nearly 6 million are unvaccinated and vulnerable to the highly transmissible Delta variant now that most Covid restrictions have been lifted. But if enacted early enough, even light-touch measures could be sufficient to keep infections flat and prevent a damaging fresh wave of hospitalisations, Sage experts say.