Speaking on Jeremy Vine on 5, Dr Jarvis asked why the Government took so long to “cancel Christmas” when it was clear the new variant of coronavirus was threatening the country with a 70 percent increase of transmission as soon as 10 days ago. She blasted: “Anybody looking at the science would have known how fast this new kind was spreading.
“They’ve now confirmed it’s up to 70 percent, it could increase the R by 0.4 and 0.9 if you look at their figures.
“We didn’t have any choice but why didn’t we do it earlier?”
She added: “I don’t know if you remember, but about 10 days ago when they started talking about the new variant and I looked at the figures, I came on the show and said they should be cancelling Christmas now.
“Nobody wanted to make those changes, nobody wanted to cancel Christmas but the new variant was the real game-changer and it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to say I told you so.”
The United Kingdom was on Monday shut off from much of Europe after its closest allies cut transport ties due to fears about a new strain of the coronavirus, sowing chaos for families and companies just days before it exits the European Union’s orbit.
France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Israel and Canada shut off travel ties after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Saturday that a highly infectious new strain of the virus was a danger to the country.
Johnson will chair an emergency response meeting on Monday to discuss international travel, in particular the flow of freight in and out of Britain.
Asked about the Prime Minister’s message to panic buyers and if Mr Johnson was telling people not to panic buy, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Yes, we’ve been clear throughout, we have resilient supply chains and… it is the case that the majority of our food doesn’t come in through the short straits.
“It remains the position that people should shop normally, continue to be considerate in the way they shop.”
Asked if there was a possible Brexit element in the travel restrictions by the Continent, a reminder of how vulnerable the UK might be in the event of a no-deal, he added: “We’re continuing to work closely with our international partners, as is the case throughout the pandemic there have been different travel restrictions imposed around the world.
“We recently suspended travel from Denmark (due) to a new variant being discovered there. Country-specific travel restrictions and public health measures are a matter for each individual country.”
Downing Street said the UK Government was in contact with the French authorities about the ban on lorries crossing the channel.
Asked whether Boris Johnson believed the French action was justified, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are obviously working incredibly closely with our international partners and are working urgently to minimise the disruption as far as possible.”
The spokesman added that “we are in close contact with the French to try and get this resolved”.
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Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said vaccination alone will not be enough to bring the virus circulating in the community to “very low levels”.
Speaking at a press briefing, he said: “We actually need to have the absolute amount of virus circulating to be very low.
“And we won’t do that by vaccination alone until we’re getting 50 percent of the population vaccinated or more, and that’s going to be quite a bit of a long way off yet.
“So I fear that the sort of restrictions we have, the non-medical interventions are going to need to be carried on.”