How Sajid Javid's press conference unfolded as Government says it will not implement 'plan B'

Health Secretary Sajid Javid led a Downing Street press conference from 5pm on Wednesday, October 20, in which he confirmed that the Government has no current plans to implement further measures – known as “plan B” for tackling coronavirus.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 6:12 pm

Mr Javid’s appearance on Wednesday came amid mounting concern about rising cases and a faltering vaccination programme, with calls renewed for all those eligible for a jab or booster to come forward for an appointment.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, warned earlier on Wednesday that “we risk stumbling into a winter crisis” unless measures such as face masks and vaccine passports, which form part of the Government’s “plan B” are introduced in England.

He urged ministers to come up with a “plan C” of even tougher restrictions if those measures are insufficient to address pressure on the health service.

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Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid is due to give a Downing Street press conference from 5pm on Wednesday, October 20. Picture: Toby Melville-WPA Pool/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, it was also confirmed on Wednesday that deals have been agreed for two new treatments, which could be used for some of those most vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19.

Mr Javid was joined at the press conference by Dr Jenny Harries, UK Health Security Agency’s chief executive, and Professor Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England.

See some of the main points from Mr Javid’s press conference below.

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Downing Street press conference LIVE: Follow updates from Health Secretary Sajid Javid

Last updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2021, 17:49

  • Health Secretary Sajid Javid will lead a press conference at Downing Street from 5pm on Wednesday, October 20.

Who will speak at this afternoon’s press conference?

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, warned “we risk stumbling into a winter crisis” if further measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are not introduced.

The NHS Confederation is the membership organisation that represents the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Taylor went on to say that the NHS is preparing for what could be “the most challenging winter on record” and urged the public to “show extra support for the NHS” by “behaving in ways that will keep themselves and others safe”.

He added: “It is time for the Government to enact Plan B of its strategy without delay because without pre-emptive action, we risk stumbling into a winter crisis.

“Also, health leaders need to understand what a ‘Plan C’ would entail if these measures are insufficient.

“The Government should not wait for Covid infections to rocket and for NHS pressures to be sky high before the panic alarm is sounded.”

A message from England’s Chief Medical Officer

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, issued a message about rising Covid cases on his Twitter account.

Majority likely to comply if mandatory mask-wearing reinstated, says expert

The majority of people are likely to obey a rule to wear face coverings in England if it is reintroduced by the Government as part of its winter plan, a behavioural expert has predicted.

Professor Linda Bauld said the nation is “the outlier” in the UK when it comes to coronavirus safety measures, as many aspects included in the Westminster Government’s Plan B are already in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The behavioural scientist, who is Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, said the main issue is communication, and added that making something mandatory is a “big shift” which sends a message that people need to comply.

Under the Government’s current Plan A strategy, people in England are advised to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings but it is not a legal requirement.

What do you think, and have you still been wearing a mask?

Are you eligible for your flu or Covid booster vaccines?

Coronavirus figures update

The Government said a further 179 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the UK total to 139,031.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 164,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

As of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 49,139 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

What has No 10 said about future Covid measures?

Downing Street has said there are no plans for a further Covid-19 lockdown in England.

A No 10 spokesman said: “We have set out our autumn and winter plan in terms of ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’, and we continue to look at the latest scientific data.

“There isn’t any proposed plan for any further lockdowns. We are sticking to the autumn and winter plan we have set out.”

BREAKING: Deals agreed for new treatments for those most at risk from Covid-19

Deals have been agreed for two new treatments which could be used for some of those most vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19, it was announced at 5pm on Wednesday.

Thousands of courses of the antivirals have been secured by the Government to be ready for use this winter, subject to approval by the UK medicines regulator.

The treatments, from pharmaceutical companies Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD), and Pfizer, would be aimed at those most at risk from the virus, including the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Sajid Javid begins speaking

Mr Javid has arrived to begin the conference.

The impact Covid could have this winter

Mr Javid is outlining how Covid and other seasonal viruses could thrive over the winter months, and said “this pandemic is not over”. Cases are starting to rise, he continued, and we are starting to see the impact with 43,738 new cases recorded in the UK on Tuesday, October 19.

Cases could go on to reach “100,000 a day” he said.

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