Independent SAGE chair fears for the vulnerable under Christmas rules

15 December 2020, 19:12

By Fiona Jones

Independent SAGE chair fears relaxed Christmas rules as those unknowingly carrying Covid, due to an 'inoperative' test and trace system, will travel to other households and infect the vulnerable.

His warnings came after Michael Gove began talks with the UK's devolved administrations over Christmas relaxation, which will continue tomorrow.

There have been rising calls for the Prime Minister to rethink the festive rules with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, cross-bench MPs and top medical journals the BMJ and HSJ all urging for household mixing to be scrapped.

Watch: Top medical journalist explains why PM must scrap Christmas rules

"If we relax any of the lockdown tiers, we are going to see a rise in the number of cases. if we haven't learnt this lesson now then I don't think we ever will," Sir Dave King told LBC.

"If we do this before we have a fully operative find test trace isolate and support system in place so that all of those that are infected, or have been in contact with those who are infected, can be separated from the rest of the population," he said, "then the rest of the population can about its normal business."

He branded the lockdown tiers "a very clumsy approach" because "we're all having to isolate because the Government hasn't been able to set up a test and trace system that enables the people who need to be isolated to isolate from the rest of us."

The Independent SAGE chair acknowledged that while it is "awful" for children not to be able to see their grandparents, it would be worse to go into another lockdown which will affect livelihoods, the economy and mental health.

Eddie posited that there could be rules against households mixing with the exception of the vulnerable who may have suffered physically and mentally from the lockdown.

"We should be able to construct rules and the rules would include the requirement to test people who come into contact in that way," Sir Dave said, "we can't hope to test everyone in that way before Christmas, but we could certainly test people who are in the situation you've just described."

He said the worst scenario is for a friend or family member to see their vulnerable, struggling relative and mistakenly pass the virus over.