'What about the economy?!' Andrew Castle confronts expert on 'plan B' calls

23 October 2021, 13:23

By Seán Hickey

Andrew Castle clashes with this public health expert who insists measures such as mask wearing and working from home could prevent further rises in Covid cases and deaths.

Pressure is growing on government to trigger 'plan B' of the coronavirus strategy to prevent further cases and deaths overwhelming the NHS this winter. The strategy includes encouraging people to work from home, wear masks in indoor settings and potentially introduce mandatory vaccine passports.

Read more: 'Nothing to indicate' UK will be plunged into winter lockdown, Boris Johnson insists

"Why don't we ever talk about the consequences of that as the other side of this equation?" Andrew Castle put to professor of Public Health at the University of Southampton Dr Nisreen Alwan, who backed additional measures to curb the spread. She noted that a major concern is the rise of cases of Long Covid and additional measures would stunt a predicted rise.

"I understand about Long Covid, I know people are dying. I know people are getting ill – a lot less than they were last year, a vast amount less," he went on.

Read more: Get your vaccine to keep Britain on track, PM pleads as he sticks to Plan A

"What about undiagnosed illnesses? What about the economy being whacked?"

Read more: Rees-Mogg: Tories don't wear masks in Parliament because we are friends

Dr Alwan argued that the debate was not one sided, warning that "if the NHS is overloaded" this winter then nobody can be helped.

The two disagreed over whether the NHS was already overwhelmed, with Dr Alwan citing work from professionals which suggests that the NHS is on its way to becoming overwhelmed.

Read more: Government 'all over the shop' on mask-wearing, says Shadow Health Secretary

"We're seeing very few people in hospital compared to last year" Andrew countered, but the public health expert reminded him that "hospital admissions are rising over the last few weeks" and statisticians are "concerned by the overload".

Read more: 'Where is Maggie Throup?!': Nick Ferrari asks why the Vaccines Minister is AWOL

Dr Alwan took up Andrew on an earlier comment on masks: "What are the consequences of mask wearing?" She wondered.

"They make people feel absolutely terrible. They're claustrophobic", Andrew argued.

"It's not just mask wearing" he added, noting that if plan B were to be initiated it would have a detrimental impact on the mental health and social life of Brits.