Jeremy Hunt: Chief scientists need to make call on Christmas relaxation

15 December 2020, 18:30

By Sam Sholli

Jeremy Hunt has told LBC that the Prime Minister needs to listen to Government scientists on whether the Government should stop household mixing this Christmas.

Health Committee chair Jeremy Hunt made these comments as Michael Gove began talks with the UK's devolved administration 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

The pleas have followed the Health Secretary's confirmation to Parliament on Monday that a new variant of coronavirus has been identified which "may be associated with the faster spread in the South East".

Mr Hunt told LBC: "Well, I think the Government should look at what they're saying very carefully because the plans for Christmas were announced when the pandemic was in a very different stage."

"We didn't know about the second strain. Last week alone in London we saw cases doubling over six days."

He added: "In the end there is a call that needs to be made by Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance and I think Boris Johnson should listen to whatever they say."

Watch: 'We shouldn't panic about new variant of Covid,' scientist tells LBC

The Health Committee chair continued: "But I would just make this point. In the first wave, we had about one indirect death for every death directly caused by coronavirus because of interruptions to cancer care and emergency care and so on.

"That's the kind of mode we would get into in January and February on current trends."

Read more: Government Minister urges Brits to do 'minimum possible' at Christmas