Europe 1 with AFP 6:49 p.m., February 21, 2022

Boris Johnson announced the easing of coronavirus measures on Friday.

The British Prime Minister announced the end of compulsory isolation for positive coronavirus cases from this Thursday in England and the end of free screening on April 1.

He said the country's restrictions come at a significant cost, not to mention the repercussions on mental illness.

Ignoring criticism, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday the end of compulsory isolation for positive coronavirus cases from Thursday in England, a key and controversial measure in his strategy for living with Covid-19 as with the " flu".

The United Kingdom, among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic with more than 160,000 deaths, was among the first in Europe to try to return to pre-pandemic life, relying on high vaccination coverage.

Stuck in a scandal over parties organized in Downing Street during confinement, which threatens his political survival and is the subject of a police investigation, Boris Johnson has decided to speed up and lift the main measures still in place in England after two years of pandemic.

"We now have sufficient levels of immunity to move from protecting people through government interventions to (an approach based on) vaccines and treatments as the first line of defense," the Conservative Prime Minister told the Parliament.

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"The restrictions have a significant cost to our economy, our society, our mental well-being and our children's opportunities, and we must not pay that price any longer," he added, citing the success of the vaccination campaign and the ability to "react quickly in the event of the emergence of a new variant".

It will however remain recommended, until April 1, to stay at home in the event of a positive test, the date on which free screening will be abolished except for the elderly or vulnerable because of its significant financial cost.

"After that, we will encourage people with symptoms of Covid-19 to exercise their personal responsibility, just as we encourage those who may have the flu to be careful of others," insisted Boris Johnson, plagued by Partygate .

As soon as the peak of the Omicron wave passed in January, the leader had already lifted most of the restrictions in force in England, such as the indoor mask and the health pass for discos or mass events.

Fourth dose

A sign of the tensions surrounding these last steps, the council of ministers scheduled for the morning to validate this plan was postponed to the afternoon, by telephone, according to the media due to disagreements over the end of free screening.

The number of cases has dropped sharply in the United Kingdom but remains around 40,000 per day, including Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday, who according to Buckingham Palace, however, only suffers from "mild" symptoms.

At the same time as this relaxation, the government intends to continue its vaccination campaign, with the administration "in the spring" of a new dose of an anti-Covid vaccine to people over 75 and to the most vulnerable.

"Domino Effect"

If these announcements have been welcomed from the benches of the conservative majority, they are severely criticized by some experts.

According to Robert West, a psychologist at University College London and a member of the government's scientific council interviewed on Times Radio, the lifting of all restrictions will result in an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

World Health Organization (WHO) envoy for Europe David Nabarro has expressed concern that the country is "choosing a line that goes against the public health consensus", which would create "a domino effect in the world".

In matters of health, the decisions of the government in London are limited to England.

The other three nations - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -, competent in health matters, have often adopted a more cautious approach.

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