Schools return, ICU and Brazil: Nine things Boris Johnson revealed

Boris Johnson appeared before the House Liaison Committee this afternoon.

He made a number of key announcements on topics including a new Brazilian variant of coronavirus, whether our intensive care units can handle it, and whether restrictions could be eased in mid-February.

Here’s a rundown of what he had to say on the main topics.

Intensive care units

Boris Johnson warned of a “very significant” risk that intensive care units could be overwhelmed.

He said to the MPs: “If you ask me when we think the ICU capacity is likely to be exceeded, I cannot give you a prediction for that.”

“But all I can say is that the risk is very great and we need to keep the pressure off the NHS. The only way to do this is to follow the current lockdown.”

He told the Commons Liaison Committee that “the situation in the NHS is indeed very, very difficult” and “the burden on the staff is enormous”.

Brazilian variant

Former Health Minister Jeremy Hunt asked if Britain should ban flights from Brazil as a new variant of Covid was discovered there.

Mr Johnson said, “We are concerned about the new Brazilian variant,” he told MPs.

“We have already taken strict measures to protect this country from new infections from abroad.

“We are taking steps to do this in relation to the Brazilian variant.

“There are still many questions about this variant, for example we don’t know more than we know whether the South African variant is resistant to vaccines.”

Will schools reopen after the first half of February?

Boris Johnson suggested the schools may not reopen after the February semester, but said the priority is to reopen them “as soon as possible”.

The Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee: “If we can do what we want the vaccination program to do, obviously the priority is to open schools as soon as possible.

“Whether we can do that after half-time in mid-February, whether we can start, depends on a number of things.”

He said it depends on the success of vaccination programs or the discovery that variants are resistant to the vaccine.

How does he react to the school lunch scandal in which parents posted pictures of insufficient weekly packed lunches?

Boris Johnson said the companies that provided families with the much-criticized free school lunch offers were “pulled over the coal”.

Answering a question from the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon, on the Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister said: “You are rightly obviously obviously outraged by the pictures we have seen.

“And the companies in question – or certainly one of the most notorious images, the company responsible for it and others – were dragged over the coal and asked to explain how this happened.

“They apologized and reimbursed the schools concerned and committed not to do this again.

“I should stress that the pictures did not reflect actual government guidelines, which mean roughly double the amount of food for five days of packed lunch that you saw, if not more.”

Boris Johnson said some free school meals were “a scandal and shame” but insisted that they did not reflect government guidelines.

The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee, “I think if you look at some of these pictures they don’t reflect the guidance, but it is a scandal and a shame that some companies are trying to get away with determining that they are are offer.

“The packages offered were clearly totally inadequate and so we took the steps we did.”

Mr Johnson said, “It is up to the schools to decide whether or not to have coupons or packed lunches”. Around 75% opt for vouchers, but some schools want to keep supporting caterers.

Boris Johnson added that some free school lunch packages were “a scandal and a shame” but insisted that they did not reflect government guidelines.

The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee, “I think if you look at some of these pictures they don’t reflect the guidance, but it is a scandal and a shame that some companies are trying to get away with determining that they are are offer.

“The packages offered were clearly totally inadequate and so we took the steps we did.”

Mr Johnson said, “It is up to the schools to decide whether or not to have coupons or packed lunches”. Around 75% opt for vouchers, but some schools want to keep supporting caterers.

Test and trace performance

Defending NHS test and trace operations, Mr Johnson stated, “They have done 56 million tests.

“And that’s an amazing number. I think it is the highest in Europe. “

The Prime Minister said there would be a greater exchange of information between the NHS and local authorities starting this week.

“By the end of this week, I want public health directors in the local government to know who is being vaccinated in their communities.

“In the future, it will be important that the local authorities know who has been vaccinated and can fight the fight in their areas.”

Vaccines for black and ethnic minorities

Boris Johnson said there is a “great, great flow of vaccines” and expressed concerns that some in black and ethnic minority communities may be “difficult to reach”.

The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee: “This government has ensured a greater supply of vaccines, I think both in absolute terms and per capita, than virtually any other country in the world.

“So we have a great, great flow of vaccines on the way, but there is also a program in place to accelerate the delivery of the Oxford vaccine. The remaining Pfizer vaccine will be preferred, the Moderna vaccine too, we are doing everything we can to move the manufacturing process forward as quickly as possible. “

He said it was important that the NHS share data on who was vaccinated.

“Because, as I said, there will be groups that will be difficult to reach, especially from the black and ethnic minority groups, we may see some evidence of this and it is important that we do our best to help the local community, Go Point to the really high numbers that we can find everyone in need of a vaccine and encourage them to take it, ”Johnson said.

To Donald Trump

Boris Johnson defended a close relationship with Donald Trump as the U.S. president was on the verge of being charged a second time.

Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell asked the Prime Minister: “In light of recent events, do you regret that Donald Trump deserved a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018?”

Mr Johnson replied, “I am in favor of the UK Prime Minister having the best possible relationship with the President of the United States and I recently had an excellent conversation with President-elect Joe Biden.”

On the number of vaccines

According to Boris Johnson, around 2.8 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered as he has pledged to make vaccine data as “transparent as possible”.

He told the Liaison Committee: “It is reasonable that as soon as we get good regional data, for example, we should share it.

“We’ll be releasing the regional breakdowns later this week.”

Mr Johnson said more than 50% of people over 80 in the North East and Yorkshire had been vaccinated.

Social security plan

A social care plan will be released later this year, Boris Johnson confirmed.

The Prime Minister said: “The pandemic has highlighted the troubles the social care sector is in – it clearly needs reform and improvement.

“But there’s also the problem of people being forced to sell their homes to pay for their care, and that’s something we want to address and we’ll come up with plans later this year.”

He said the social care sector should have a “long-term plan”.

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