COMMENT: Science must be behind the return to normality

It appears very convenient for beleaguered Boris Johnson to suddenly announce his intention to halt the legal requirement for people with Covid-19 to self-isolate.

He knows there is considerable unrest in the Tory ranks over Partygate and his refusal to apologise for his Commons attack on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer over Jimmy Savile.

So what better way to try to get hostile backbenchers back on his side than by announcing he will end the last domestic restriction on our liberty and present his plan for ‘living with Covid’ when Parliament returns from a short recess on February 21?

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The prime minister has indicated that the law forcing people to self-isolate will be lifted a month earlier than planned.

But is this decision driven by data, or by political expediency?

Mr Johnson has always insisted throughout the pandemic that he would be guided by the science.

But where are the medical experts now? They appear conspicuous by their absence as Mr Johnson ploughs ahead.

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There were 11,471 patients in hospital in England with Covid-19 on February 8, NHS figures show.

Yes, it's down 11 per cent on the previous week, but still higher than levels before Christmas.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 cases in England currently average just under 64,000 a day, the lowest since mid-December.

But this only includes people who have reported a positive test result, so doesn't reflect how many have the virus across the whole population.

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Is it irresponsible to take away the requirement for self-isolation at this point in time? Or should we, as Mr Johnson suggests, learn to live with Covid and get on with the final move to open up society once again?

Of course, a return to normality is what we all want. But only if the science, and not Mr Johnson's need for a boost to his Premiership, is the reason behind it.

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