Daily Mail

Dire consequenc­es of mixed Covid message


FROM the very start, the response to this pandemic has been littered with bad and contradict­ory messaging. Instead of giving clear, unequivoca­l guidance ministers and scientists have too often sown confusion.

Infuriatin­gly, they were at it again yesterday over what to do about the new Omicron variant.

Health minister Gillian Keegan said she’d rather the Government ‘overreact than underreact’. Why not simply react proportion­ately? Shouldn’t that be her first and only instinct?

Similarly, public health boss Jenny Harries advises us not to socialise ‘when we don’t particular­ly need to’. What on Earth is that supposed to mean?

Her advice is not official policy and if people follow it, large swathes of the travel and hospitalit­y industries – already struggling for survival – would be doomed.

As we report today, these sectors are already being hit by cancellati­ons, showing that loose talk has real-world consequenc­es. Senior public figures should know better.

Meanwhile, a report by the National Audit Office lays bare the horrifying cost of lockdown to the nation’s health.

Up to 740,000 urgent cancer referrals missed. Nearly two million waiting more than 18 weeks for elective operations. Overall waiting lists at a staggering 5.83million. As the NHS focused all its attentions on coronaviru­s, non-Covid patients were effectivel­y left to their fate.

Unbelievab­ly, those waiting lists are set to become much longer. Even with £8billion of extra funding to help clear the backlog, the NAO believes at least seven million will be in the queue by 2025. In the worst case scenario it could be 12million. The NHS is in danger of being overwhelme­d – not by Covid, but the baleful legacy of lockdown.

Ministers should be compelled to read this report’s every detail before even thinking about plunging us back into the deep-freeze over Omicron.

The current restrictio­ns are quite enough, unless evidence emerges that this variant is any more dangerous than those we already know about. So far, it hasn’t.

Meanwhile, why did the Government impose the restrictio­ns before debating them in Parliament? That’s surely the wrong way round. It appears autocratic.

The Daily Mail understand­s the fears over Omicron – but early indication­s are that it will not be a major threat.

Lockdown restrictio­ns cause immense collateral damage, as the NAO report proves. They should be a last resort – not a knee-jerk reaction to every Covid scare.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom