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UK government rejects NHS plea for new Covid restrictions

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The NHS Confederation had urged ministers to revamp their plan for living with Covid and encourage ways to cut transmission. But No10 says it can now be managed like other respiratory virus.

Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said the nation was behaving as if the pandemic was over, “but it is not over in relation to the challenges facing the health service”.

He said strain on the NHS was “as bad as any winter” and called for stronger messaging on precautions such as face masks in crowded indoor spaces and meeting outdoors.

But Downing Street said: “Thanks to a combination of vaccination and treatment and our better understanding of the virus, we are able to manage it as we do with other respiratory infections, so that remains the case with our approach. But obviously, we continue to monitor any changes in the behaviour of the virus.”

More than 4.1 million people – one in 13 – were estimated to have had Covid in England in the week to April 2.There were 1,475 UK deaths within 28 days of a positive test. Some 16,442 Covid patients were in English hospitals yesterday, up 75 percent from 9,369 a month earlier. The latest total included 337 patients in mechanical ventilation beds.

Meanwhile, a survey shows people are more worried about their finances than catching Covid, as the cost-of-living crisis worsens. In January, 40 percent were nervous about the virus, but last month that fell to 33 percent. Thirty-eight percent told of money worries in March – the highest since the pandemic started.

Just 28 percent wear a mask in indoor spaces, compared with 67 percent at Christmas. Only 12 percent took lateral flow tests before meeting others, down from 43 percent.

Dr Daisy Fancourt, of University College, London, lead author of the UCL Covid-19 Social Study, said it highlighted how the relaxed Covid guidelines have affected the way people view the illness.

She added: “The number of Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths remains equivalent or higher than in January 2022, meaning the overall situation remains unchanged.”

The study polled more than 70,000 people since March 2020. It found happiness and life satisfaction fell month-on-month since last summer.

Just 35 percent of 18-to-29s felt in control of their mental health, compared with 47 percent of 30-to-59s and 61 percent of older people.

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