Covid cases 'will PLUMMET this winter even without Plan B restrictions and could fall to 5,000 daily cases before Xmas'
COVID cases are set to plummet within weeks even without Plan B restrictions, according to modelling seen by the government, it's reported.
Experts believe coronavirus cases could sink to around 5,000 a day before Christmas, The Telegraph reports.
Ministers are said to have held off reimposing measures like compulsory face masks and working from home after seeing modelling showing the virus in retreat.
One model, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggests cases will peak shortly then fall off in the winter.
Other unpublished models are also said to show cases nosediving, The Telegraph understands.
The predicted fall would occur without Boris Johnson having to resort to Plan B restrictions.
That would see face coverings, work from home orders and vaccine passports brought in.
Professor John Edmunds, a member Sage the sub-group SPI-M, told The Telegraph: “When we were doing the work about two weeks ago, the Health Secretary had made it very clear that the government was not planning to introduce Plan B in the near future.
“Our model was projecting that cases would start to decline some time in the autumn.
“However, the model also suggests that cases may start to climb again in the spring, due to a combination of waning immunity and increased contacts.”
Cases have been surging among under-20s, with almost half of recent infections in this age group,
But the government reportedly believes growth will tail off due to immunity through vaccination and infection.
It's hoped this week's half-term will also help drive down case growth among children.
Cases hit 50,000 last week as the government comes under pressure to reimpose some restrictions.
Almost another 40,000 cases and 72 deaths were recorded yesterday, with Labour now calling for Plan B to be implemented.
But speaking on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government had "no plans" to move to Plan B.
He said: "We're monitoring everything, but at the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B.
The data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B.
"But of course we will keep an eye on that and the plans are ready."
Meanwhile, vaccines minister Maggie Throup, insisted Plan A is "working" and the current outlook is "where we need to be".
In her first broadcast interview, she told LBC: "The data right now shows that Plan A is working."
Other experts said if the models are correct they back the decision not to bring in restrictions at the moment.
Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, at the University of East Anglia, said: “There are times when delaying is really valuable.
Christmas should see some of the lowest number of cases of Covid since late May/early June even without further restrictions
"But there comes a point when restrictions have no value because you’ve got as much protection as you’re going to get, so you end up putting it off to a point where you lose immunity.
“What the modelling suggests is that even without Plan B, we should expect to see case numbers falling quite rapidly in the next few weeks.
"If correct, Christmas should see some of the lowest number of cases of Covid since late May/early June even without further restrictions.
“If it's right, then this issue about whether we should be locking down is immaterial. We shouldn’t and the Government is doing the right thing."
NHS CASH BOOST
It comes as Mr Sunak prepares to unveil a a £6 billion cash injection for the NHS to deal with backlogs caused by Covid.
The Chancellor will pledge the funding in Wedneday's Budget, with £2.3 billion earmarked for 100 community diagnostic centres to slash waiting times for CT, MRI and ultrasound scans and other tests.
Another £1.5 billion will be spent on surgical hubs in hospitals to tackle waiting times for elective operations.
Mr Sunak said: "As we bounce back from the pandemic it’s vital we cut waiting lists and ensure those who need help and treatment get it as soon as possible.
“This significant investment will be a major boost for millions of people waiting for checks and treatment as a result of the pandemic ‑ and is expected to help clear most backlogs for diagnostic tests and scans by the end of the parliament."
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