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For some in the UK, the end of Covid rules threatens more than isolation

LONDON – The coronavirus has forced Christopher Riley, a 53-year-old with blood cancer living in London, to strike a balance in his pursuit of normalcy. He will get flowers from the bin next to the entrance of a supermarket, but be quick to hold them. He went to Tate Modern, but on an early morning of the week. He would cook for his friends, but only a small group of them all took the Covid test.

Those accommodations allow Mr Riley to maintain a normal life as the virus spreads across Britain, although his condition means his immune system has been compromised.

But now, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that he would lift coronavirus restrictions in the UK, Mr Riley and other vulnerable people fear that even shrinking operations will be too much. risk, leaving them isolated even as the country opens up. up for most people.

“Now I can’t see how we can move towards a kind of normalcy,” he said, adding that the new approach would push him into the house more. “There’s nothing there to protect us.”

A return to normal life is at the heart of Mr Johnson’s decision to restore the rest of the coronavirus restrictions to UK law, in what has been described as an attempt to live with the virus. withdraw. Those infected will no longer be quarantined and most testing will no longer be free.

Mr Johnson said at a news conference on Monday: “We have to map out a path back to normal as quickly as possible.

For Clare Dawson, that path has just been interrupted.

“If someone walking around the streets you knew could kill you, would you go out?” Ms Dawson, 41, lives in London and has a chronic lung condition that puts her at greater risk of being affected by Covid-19.

Gemma Peters, chief executive of Blood Cancer UK, a charity that funds blood cancer research, said following the prime minister’s announcement their hotline was flooded with calls from patients Cancer asked what the new regulations mean for them and whether it would apply. safe for them to go out.

“We can’t answer all the calls,” Ms. Peters said. “People use language like, ‘Society doesn’t care if I die,’ and I think that’s the feeling – that they’re some kind of collateral damage.”

British Government said in a press conference that it will continue to protect the most vulnerable with targeted vaccinations and treatments, and that free tests will still be available to vulnerable people, but it acknowledges that Lifting the remaining legal restrictions will most likely cause an increase in cases.

“Keep testing free for vulnerable people? It’s too late,” said Trishna Bharadia, 42, who has multiple sclerosis and has largely been isolated at home in Buckinghamshire, England, for the past two years. “The aim should be to prevent those vulnerable to Covid in the first place.”

Ms Bharadia said she and her family watched Mr Johnson’s press conference on Monday in the living room, where they watched virtual weddings, funerals and birthday parties they were unable to attend for the past two years.

“We can only live with the virus if those protective measures continue,” Ms. Bharadia said. “Just because I have a medical condition doesn’t mean I’m any less important.”

However, the less restrictive trend seems clear. On Tuesday, Scotland – part of Britain but setting its own Covid policies – also moved to reinstate its legal coronavirus restrictions. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister there, announced plans to lift mask regulations in March and said the country’s Covid certification program, which requires people to show proof of vaccinations or tests recent negative test to attend major events, which will end this month.

And the UK government has also withdrawn guidance in the UK for staff and students at most schools and nurseries to be tested twice a week, even if they show no symptoms. Infected children, like adults, will also no longer be required to legally self-isolate, but will be advised to do so.

Experts alert that this could result in children with weakened immune systems or living with vulnerable family members being excluded from school.

Ceinwen Giles, 47, who is immunocompromised following cancer treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, says her 12-year-old daughter will continue to go to school, but is worried about her ability to sit next to children. who can be infected.

“This is how we have to live,” said Ms Giles, who is also the chief executive officer of Shine Cancer Support, a charity for young people with cancer. “And nobody seems to care.”

In England and Wales, just 16.8% of those who died from Covid between October and December last year had no pre-existing health conditions, according to the British government. For people with weaker immune systems because of illness or treatment, Covid-19 can be more deadly, and vaccines are often less protective.

Whether or not their condition forced them to take health precautions even before the pandemic, over the past two years many clinically vulnerable people have been forced into near-isolation. completely, and even more so as the powers and restrictions surrounding them have dropped. In the United States, many more intolerant and at-risk people also feel left behind after the series of restrictions lifted.

“You feel different again,” said Ms. Dawson, adding that the government’s new approach has left her feeling more alone in the face of the virus and forced to adopt her own precautions. on its own, stripping the rules of their balancing act.

Finally, people with health conditions understand their desire for life to return to normal and say they do not require draconian restrictions.

Instead, they say modest restrictions – such as regulations on face masks in transport and supermarkets, and isolation requirements for those who are infected – will make a big difference for those who are sick. vulnerable without causing major disruption to others.

Mr Riley, 53, said: ‘The mask is such a small thing.

Megan Specia contribution report.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/world/europe/uk-coronavirus-restrictions-vulnerable.html For some in the UK, the end of Covid rules threatens more than isolation

Fry Electronics Team

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