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UK Health Secretary Javid Hints at New Mask Rule, Warns Daily COVID-19 Cases Could Hit 100K

© REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLEBritain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid speaks during a press conference held in Downing Street, London
Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid speaks during a press conference held in Downing Street, London - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.10.2021
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UK Health Security Agency chief executive Jenny Harries said that while the weekly average number of deaths within 28 days of testing positive for the virus was "flat", the daily total was "moving in the wrong direction".
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned the rate of COVID-19 infections could hit 100,000 a day and said some restrictions could return.
At his first Downing Street press conference since his appointment in last month's ministerial reshuffle on Wednesday, Javid urged the public to take "little steps" to slow the spread of the virus as the winter approaches.
The examples he gave echoed many of the lockdown restrictions that were finally lifted in July, including meeting others outdoor where possible, opening windows when meeting others indoors and wearing face masks in crowded public places.
"We are looking closely at the danger and we won't be implementing our Plan B at this point," he said, contradicting Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng's comments that morning "categorically" ruling out a fourth round of lockdown restrictions.
Answering a question from a member of the public, Ruth in Cornwall, on whether mask-wearing should be mandatory again in public, the minister said the government approach was right but that individuals should be mindful of others.
“We still think it was the right decision to learn to live with the virus,” Javid said. “Everyone should follow that guidance and think of others around them.”
But he said Downing Street remained "vigilant" and any “plan B” could include making masks mandatory in public buildings again.
FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 lockdown begins to ease in Cheshire - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.10.2021
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Javid trumpeted the news that over 4 million of the roughly 15 million most-vulnerable had already had a third jab, which he insisted was not a "booster", to help prevent immunity from waning.
"We should be proud that the UK is at the forefront of treatments," he said, boasting that the government had struck a deal to buy hundreds of thousands of doses of two brand new antiviral drugs that are yet to even be approved by medicines regulator the MHRA.
UK Health Security Agency chief executive Jenny Harries said that while the weekly average number of deaths within 28 days of testing positive for the virus was "flat", the daily total was "moving in the wrong direction".
Harries said the school half-term holidays next week would provide a "natural break" to infections, but said the R-rate — the average number of people each infected individual passes the illness on to — was still between 0.9 and 1.1, while figures showed the daily number of cases rising towards 50,000. But she said "small behavioural changes" could reverse that trend.
Harries also stressed the benefits of immunisation with a graph comparing the numbers of vaccinated to to unvaccinated admitted to hospital with severe cases of coronavirus.
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