Coronavirus restrictions may need to return during winter, MP warns

Dr Dan Poulter

Dr Poulter has warned that some Covid restrictions many need to return later in the year - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Coronavirus restrictions may need to return in the autumn and winter as the number of infections rise, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter has said.

However, the Conservative - who also works part-time as a frontline NHS doctor - said he does not foresee a fourth lockdown.

Dr Poulter said he "on balance" supports plans to remove the vast majority of lockdown restrictions on July 19.

Prime minister Boris Johnson believes it appears to be safe to move to step four of the government's roadmap, which would remove the requirement for social distancing and face masks.

Cases have risen sharply in some areas, with a quadrupling of the case rate in Ipswich in a week.

Many pubs and venues across the town were also forced to close for the England v Italy Euro 2020 final because of Covid cases.

However, Dr Poulter - who is also vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus - said: "I think, on balance, it is right to ease restrictions.

"But I can see the merit of retaining the legal requirement for masks to be worn in places like public transport, hospitals and some other indoor sites.

"If dangerous new variants do emerge, the government could have to bring back some restrictions.

"I don't see a full lockdown, because it seems that the vaccines can cope quite well with new variants - but there could be more requirements to wear masks and social distancing rules."

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Dr Poulter, who fears the arrival of more new variants in the autumn and winter, also said a roll-out of booster vaccines could be needed.

"We're already seeing quite a number of health workers who have had both jabs some time ago testing positive for the Delta variant," he said

"They have been asymptomatic or had mild symptoms - but that suggests that the vaccine might only last nine to 12 months and that a regular booster might be needed."

There has also been quite a serious flu outbreak in Australia during the southern hemisphere's winter.

"That often goes from there to here," said Dr Poulter.

"A combination of respiratory problems with flu and Covid could put great pressure on the NHS.

"I don't think we can rule out more restrictions.

"I do think that to imagine we are finishing with restrictions forever is not realistic when there are so many uncertainties connected with this."

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