England is ‘out of step’ with Wales on Covid rules, public health expert suggests
A public health expert has suggested that it is England that is “out of step” with Wales on Covid rules.
Professor Andrew Watterson, of the faculty of health sciences at the University of Stirling, has criticised Boris Johnson’s government for not tightening restrictions despite coronavirus case rates surging in the country.
The scientist pointed to England having the highest seven-day positivity rate of any country in the UK and said “one would have expected a more precautionary and preventative approach”.
He also suggested that the governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland tightened restrictions because they have looked at the “evidence”.
After he was asked what he thought of the Government’s approach, the professor laughed and said: “The Government in England, you mean?”
He added: “They really are out of step. If we’re looking at evidence about transmission, which is clearly what Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland did, they’ve come to very different conclusions about what the risks are and what the figures are telling us.
“England has the highest seven-day positivity rate just before Christmas across the whole of the UK. And therefore one would have expected a more precautionary and preventative approach.
“But that’s not what we have seen. So I think there’s a real mismatch between some of the data … and what is happening in terms of policy and prevention.”
The interviewer then suggested that the surge in Omicron causes is not leading to the same number of hospitalisations as other waves of Covid, adding: “Hence, perhaps, their reluctance to take measures that would be very restrictive on day-to-day life and economically, if it’s not merited by the hospitalisation numbers.
The professor replied: “Yes. But the hospitalisation numbers are rising. And there is the issue then about how Omicron might affect the various people who provide the service. So it’s not just hospitalisation. It’s about the people there who are going to care for those who are ill.”
He added that a large number of people self-isolating is causing problems for the haulage sector, transport industry, retail and as well as other areas.
When it was suggested to him that divergence between England and the other nations might cause people in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to be less compliant, the professor argued the opposite may also be true.
“People in England may say well why in the other three countries are they taking these actions.
“But mixed messaging is a really big issue. What we’ve heard from the Government in England is ‘well be careful and open a few windows’. Well that’s not very good messaging … so I think there’s a real problem across the UK now about muddled messaging primarily created, I think, in England.”