End of Lockdown: Covid treated like flu – Hancock says regular jabs will see life return

The Health Secretary put an end to lockdown misery as he said he hopes to manage Covid like flu. Matt Hancock explained that restrictions do not have to be put in place in the future. He told MPs: “My goal is we will eventually see Covid as something that has to be managed rather like flu.

“We don’t put in place restrictions on normal life to tackle the flu but we do have a regular vaccination programme.

“That’s where I hope with vaccines that’s a point we can get to.”

He added: “In the pandemic, we had 38,000 patients in hospital across the UK at any one time with Covid.

“But that of course meant that other non-urgent treatment had to be delayed so there is a question of the trade-off here is delayed.

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“In a bad flu season, non-urgent treatment is delayed. That is one way the NHS manages through a difficult flu season in winter.

“Measures like that will be necessary if we have an increase in Covid cases but we have to be hopeful.

“We have to learn to live with risk as a society as a reality.

“The goal and the strategy is to invest in the NHS so it has more capacity, make sure it can expand capacity and make sure through the vaccine effort and people’s personal responsibility.

“I think that is the best way down this road.”

Mr Hancock went on to say he “cannot answer” whether the Coronavirus Act will be retired in six months or rolled on.

Conservative former minister Steve Brine said: “The Prime Minister has been saying in the last few days about the need for section two for instance around the emergency registration of nurses to help us deal with the backlog, and the same is true of section 53, 54, 55 and 56 with respect to the courts.

“Now in six months’ time, will we need that? Will we have therefore dealt with the backlog in the health service and in the courts? Or will (Mr Hancock) be needing to renew this again in six months?”

Mr Hancock replied: “There are parts of this Act that have allowed us to do good things that everybody would like to see like that, and so when we do come to retire this Act, which we must within one year and preferably within six months, we will need to make sure that we can continue to do that sort of thing and make sure that nurses can be enrolled as easily as possible into the NHS.

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“But I cannot answer whether we will be retiring it in six months. My preference would be yes, but given the last year, I think a prediction would be hasty.”

He Hancock added that the powers in the Coronavirus Act will only be retained “as long as they are necessary”.

Mr Hancock told the Commons: “Although this Act remains essential and there are elements of it which we are seeking the renewal of, we’ve always said that we would only retain powers as long as they are necessary.

“They are exceptional powers and they are approved by this House for the use in the most extremis situations and must be seen in this light.

“And because of the progress we have made, we are now able to expire and suspend a whole raft of measures within this Act, just as we expired provisions after the last review six months ago.”

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