Tuesday, 2 March 2021

COVID-19 crisis may worsen in north of England, MPs told

Neil Hall/EPA

LONDON: British lawmakers have been informed in a meeting that the number of people suffering from the novel coronavirus in intensive care units in the north of England will exceed the number at the peak of the pandemic in April, if current trends continue.

The meeting was chaired by Health Minister Ed Argar and England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty on Thursday.

The MPs were shown data from Public Health England that indicated that bars, pubs, and restaurants were responsible for 41% of linked cases of coronavirus among under-30s.

They were also told that in 22 days’ time, there would be 304 people in ICUs across the north of England, which is higher than the previous peak in April.

The briefing is expected to pave the way for further coronavirus restrictions across the north of England in the very near future.

Meanwhile, tighter coronavirus restrictions introduced in Scotland only yesterday have already become mired in chaos.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon banned public indoor drinking across the country – but cafes that did not sell alcohol could stay open until 6:00 p.m. local time (1700GMT).

Another exemption was later brought in for “licensed cafes,” so long as they do not sell alcohol as well.

Licensed premises in the UK are those that are allowed to sell alcohol.

But the exemption for “licensed cafes” then brought about a debate over how to define a cafe.

The Scottish government wavered and then said health officials in local authorities would define and enforce the rules, further compounding the confusion.

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