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‘Reckless, unethical and crazy’: Virus expert condemns Boris Johnson’s ‘freedom day’

People drink on the dance floor shortly after reopening in London.
People drink on the dance floor shortly after reopening in London.

Scotland should treat the Prime Minister’s decision to abandon key Covid-19 public health measures as a dangerous “cautionary tale”, a university expert claimed in a damning assessment.

Dr Deepti Gurdasani’s verdict comes on Boris Johnson’s self styled “freedom day” for people in England, while measures in Scotland are being reduced more slowly to “level 0”, the lowest on the sliding scale.

Case of the virus are still soaring while huge numbers of people are still to get their second shot of vaccine. The UK Government health secretary tested positive, sending Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak into isolation.

The Queen Mary University of London lecturer warned the decision in England will allow more young people to get infected, which she said is “reckless, unethical and crazy”.

Boris Johnson promised an end to compulsory face coverings in England. Nightclubs opened south of the border, there are no restrictions on how many people can gather and face masks are not compulsory.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon eased rules to the lowest level of restriction. It allows groups of up to eight people from four households to meet inside a home and stay overnight. Up to 10 people from eight households can meet in a public space like a restaurant. Hospitality venues are required to close at midnight instead of times set out by local licensing laws as previously expected.

Dr Gurdusani said the slower easing of restrictions ordered by Ms Sturgeon is “justified”.

Professor Gurdusari, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, said: “I probably would have gone more cautious than they have. It makes absolutely no sense to remove mass social distancing at this point in time. We need limits.

“I’m glad that Scotland and Wales have taken a different approach. I think England serves as a cautionary tale to pretty much all parts of the world.

“I don’t think there’s any country that’s gone ahead and done what they have in terms of endangering their own public.”

‘I’m terrified for our children’

She said there are “two bad options” to accept mass infections now or “mass deaths” later.

Children could be heading to problems with “long covid”, a little understood set of long-term conditions linked to the virus, she warned.

Dr Gurdasani called for better prevention, such as better ventilation in schools and vaccination for young people.

“I’m terrified for our children,” she claimed. “The way we are going actually requires children to get infected and develop immunity – which is herd immunity by infection – rather than getting vaccinated.”

She added: “I cannot tell you reckless, unethical and crazy that is.”

Dr Gurdasani likened the move out of restrictions in England to turning off a fire alarm instead of dealing with the blaze.

The government is making it worse while the health service is under intense pressure, she added.

Mr Johnson will self-isolate until July 26, which will include the final Prime Minister’s Questions before the Commons goes into recess, and the two-year anniversary of him entering No 10, which is on Saturday.

The Prime Minister is having to bunker down on Monday while having given those in England some of their freedoms back following more than a year of restrictions.

UK Government vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was “confident” in lifting the measures but urged people to “respect” businesses and public transport providers insisting on mask wearing continuing.

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