- Title: England's 'freedom day' more like 'anxiety day' for the most vulnerable
- Date: 14th July 2021
- Summary: SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 13, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANTEE AND AUTHOR OF "COUGHING IT ALL UP," LUKE PETERS, SAYING: "It really does feel that since shielding came to an end officially a couple of months ago, it really does feel that those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group have been largely forgotten about. As I say, there's not been any clear guidance about how we should behave come the 19th July and the only guidance that there has been being 'rely on the vaccines.' Well, the vaccines have not been shown to be working in our group as they do in mainstream society. So you know relying on the vaccines doesn't work." LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 14, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR OF OPERATIONAL RESEARCH AT UCL, CHRISTINA PAGEL, SAYING: "We're already at 500 admissions a day in England, doubling every couple of weeks at the moment. So if we keep going as the plan is, we will be at something between 1,500 to 2,000 admissions a day. Now that isn't as bad as it was back in January, which was 4,000 admissions, and it's not as bad as it was in the first peak, which was 3,000 admissions a day. But I don't think that should be the benchmark, you know? Going to the very worst thing that happened and pretty much brought our health system to its knees does not seem to me to be the benchmark of 'if it's less than that then it's ok.'" LEEDS, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 13, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS, STEPHEN GRIFFIN, SAYING: "I signed up to the lancet letter because I believe that allowing infections to run amok in the country is a dangerous mistake. I don't believe that our vaccines are at a sufficient level yet to allow this to happen safely and we should not underestimate the damage that can ensue with high case prevalence in the country." LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 12, 2021) (REUTERS) ENTRANCE TO THE CAUSE VENUE SIGN FOR TRACK AND TRACE VARIOUS OF MAN CUTTING WOOD MAN WELDING PEOPLE DISCUSSING RENOVATIONS (SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-FOUNDER OF THE CAUSE, EUGENE WILD, SAYING: "What I'm afraid of is that in Holland (the Netherlands), for example, they had to close all their clubs after two weeks of being open, and it's like if we are investing so much money into this date, this idea that we can go forward and operate as a business in that capacity, it's really important for all the businesses in our industry that they have a clear direction on that. Otherwise, it's going to be... I can't see a way out. I don't think we could go through this again and survive financially." SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JULY 13, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PETERS READING HIS MEMOIR "COUGHING IT ALL UP" (SOUNDBITE) (English) DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANTEE AND AUTHOR OF "COUGHING IT ALL UP," LUKE PETERS, SAYING: "The two years since my lung transplant have been difficult enough without COVID, but at the same time we want to live, we want to do stuff as a family, and so it's really important to us that we know what we can do, what we should be doing, what we can do safely, And conversely what we shouldn't be doing and what we shouldn't be considering doing. But that's going to be left up to me and how risk-averse or otherwise I am, because there's no other hard and fast guidance out there. And that feels wrong and it feels irresponsible."
- Embargoed: 28th July 2021 17:31
- Keywords: COVID-19 Coronavirus concerns government infections lockdown unlocking
- Location: LONDON AND SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- City: LONDON AND SUFFOLK, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Europe,Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA004ELYB1VR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:As England's so-called "freedom day" draws near, excitement at the prospect of COVID-19 restrictions being ended is being tempered by concern about the consequences for case numbers and downright fear among the clinically vulnerable.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday (July 12) that England would move to Step 4 - the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown which will end legal COVID-19 restrictions - on July 19.
That means that the last remaining businesses that are still closed under COVID-19 restrictions - such as nightclubs - can finally reopen.
Having been shut since March 2020, Eugene Wild, co-founder of The Cause club in north London, is throwing all his energies into re-opening at the stroke of midnight on the 19th but is anxious that it might not last.
Wild said he would be in favour of people getting tested before going clubbing, but was afraid that the industry might get shut down again - something he fears it would not survive.
In the Netherlands, nightclubs were open just for two weeks before they were closed again, while Israel has also had to reimpose some restrictions in the face of more cases.
Johnson has said he is reconciled to more deaths from COVID, but that a wave of cases was always expected when restrictions were eased and Britain's vaccine rollout has weakened the link between cases and serious illness.
For many of the 3.8 million people in the UK considered clinically extremely vulnerable though freedom day will be quite the opposite.
Luke Peters, an author and double lung transplantee with cystic fibrosis, said he felt as though "those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group have been largely forgotten about."
Peters began writing a memoir chronicling his life when he thought he might not survive his double lung transplant, which has left him having to take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of his life.
While many relish the prospect of the so-called "freedom day," Peters said the prospect is more like "anxiety day" for people like him.
Having regained his physical health, Peters fears the lack of provisions for people like him means that he will likely have to stop enjoying any of the life he was hoping to once again enjoy with his family.
Critics say that the strategy will not only cause deaths but also debilitating long COVID in many while increasing risks to the clinically vulnerable.
However, some believe that public anxiety about restrictions ending might be the thing that protects the country from the worst-case scenarios in the next wave.
(Production: Natalie Thomas)
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