Tue, 09 Mar 2021

© Provided by Xinhua | A public notice asking passengers to wear a face covering is seen at a bus stop in London, Britain, on Jan. 19, 2021. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

"Although the official figure has now exceeded 90,000, if you study the reports from the (British) Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than 100,000 people have already died with COVID-19 listed on their death certificates," said Liverpool-based Public Health expert John Ashton.

LONDON, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- British medical experts have called on the public to remain cautious despite the progress in vaccine rollout as Britain is still not out of woods in fighting coronavirus.

Their appeal came after Britain on Tuesday reached the grave milestone of 90,000 COVID-19-related deaths.

Liverpool-based Public Health expert John Ashton, who last Spring predicted the virus would lead to at least 100,000 deaths across the country, said the latest figures did not surprise him.

Ashton told Xinhua: "Although the official figure has now exceeded 90,000, if you study the reports from the (British) Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than 100,000 people have already died with COVID-19 listed on their death certificates."

© Provided by Xinhua | A man wearing a face mask walks past a restaurant in London, Britain, on Jan. 19, 2021. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

Ashton said his work as an expert with the World Health Organization (WHO) on outbreaks of contagious diseases such as Swine Flu and Avian Flu helped him see the impact of allowing a virus to get out of control.

Ashton, who had a COVID-19 vaccine a few days ago, said Britain's vaccination program could help ease the country back to some normality.

The total number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test has reached 91,470 in Britain after another 1,610 were confirmed Tuesday, according to official figures. Tuesday's daily death toll was the highest since the pandemic began in the country, the data showed.

© Provided by Xinhua | Photo taken on Jan. 19, 2021 shows locks by the Regent's Canal in Camden Town in London, Britain. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

NOT OUT OF WOODS

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the government's plan to vaccinate all the four most vulnerable groups covering 15 million people by mid-February is on track.

People aged 70 and over and those listed as clinically extremely vulnerable in England have begun to receive the first dose of coronavirus vaccine from Monday.

Hancock confirmed that Britain is aiming to offer all adults the vaccine by September.

However, Ashton said Britain is not out of the woods despite the progress in the vaccine rollout.

"My worry is we are still not at the stage where we can relax what we have been doing. There are still a lot of people working in the NHS (National Health Service) who are off work with illnesses and more patients need urgent hospital care," he said.

"Last year I would have said we should start seeing some shoots of normal life around March. Now I would say to people if they are planning to book a holiday overseas, don't book anything before the fall. Perhaps it will be better to consider a holiday in this country," he said. "We will be well into the summer months before we will start to see a more normal life, but we won't be totally free until later in the year, around our autumn months."

© Provided by Xinhua | People wearing face masks walk past the Vaccination Centre at ExCel exhibition centre in London, Britain, Jan. 12, 2021. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

HUGGING NO KIDS

Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, urged people in Britain to stay on their guard after they have been vaccinated against the virus.

In a radio interview, Lord said she would advise parents to avoid hugging their children, saying it takes several weeks before vaccines reach their maximum effectiveness.

Liz Kendall, social care spokeswoman for the main opposition Labour Party, called on the British government to vaccinate every care home resident by this Sunday.

"With more than 21,600 deaths from COVID-19 in care homes so far and infections tragically rising once more we are in a race against time to vaccinate residents and staff," she said.

Meanwhile, on the day the landmark figure was released, Britain's biggest business organization warned of the toll on industry after almost a year of disrupted demand and extensive restrictions.

© Provided by Xinhua | Photo taken on Jan. 19, 2021 shows closed food stalls and boats on the Regent's Canal in Camden Town, London, Britain. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Business (CBI) said: "Staff morale has taken a hit, and business resilience has hit a sobering new low."

"With the health and economic impact of coronavirus hitting hard across the country, ensuring firms' survival until the economy reopens fully will be key to turning this ambition into reality," said the CBI in a statement.

It warned with the latest national lockdown squeezing cash flow and demand like never before, business resilience is at an all-time low.

"The (British) government must once again stand shoulder-to-shoulder with businesses to underwrite support for the duration, helping viable enterprises to last the course," said Danker.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

© Provided by Xinhua | Photo taken on Jan. 12, 2021 shows a lock on chains backdropped by the buildings of Canary Wharf financial district in London, Britain. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

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