In response to the announcement that the Government will end Plan B COVID-19 restrictions, our President, Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, said:
“It’s encouraging to see in the latest ONS figures that the numbers of COVID-19 cases are falling. However, we’re still seeing an infection level of 1 in 20.
“We should all remember that even as restrictions are relaxed, everyone can still take measures to manage the risk of infection, both to themselves and to those around them who may be more vulnerable.
“Wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces, as is still advised, is a sensible and important measure to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. I would also encourage everyone to stay up to date with their COVID-19, and other, vaccinations.
“It is difficult to predict what the removal of Plan B measures means for levels of COVID-19 infection and resulting hospitalisations. The impact of returning to workplaces on transmission will depend in part on how much it increases the number of contacts people have, both in the workplace and as they travel to work.
“I hope that some respiratory hygiene measures and behaviours will persist in the long run; just as we improved hygiene in hospitals to help reduce the spread of MRSA, we need to think how to build better resilience against respiratory infections in settings like hospitals and care homes, as well as in the community.
“We may be moving into a phase of the pandemic where the population has a high level of immunity to severe disease, arising from natural infection and vaccination. But we must recognise that there is still great uncertainty. Hospitals are still under immense pressure, even with a reduction of COVID-19 admissions, and infection rates remain very high. We may yet see a new variant which causes more serious disease, and the effect of waning immunity is unclear, so we will need to continue keeping a close eye on the data in order to manage future risk.”
To read more about our work on COVID-19, visit our report page COVID-19: preparing for the future.