‘Absolutely wrong, counterproductive, mumbo jumbo’: UK's Johnson calls out anti-vaxxers
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday hit out at anti-vaccine groups who spread "mumbo jumbo" on social media but ruled out the UK following some European countries in making Covid-19 vaccination a mandatory legal requirement.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccination centre in Northampton in eastern England, Johnson said the UK will maintain a “voluntary approach” to its vaccination programme as opposed to "coercion". However, he condemned anti-vaxxers for spreading complete nonsense and urged people to take up their booster doses to protect against the surging Omicron variant.
"They (anti-vaxxers) are totally wrong and I think it is time that I, the government, call them out on what they are doing,” Johnson told reporters.
"It is absolutely wrong, it is totally counterproductive, and the stuff they're putting out on social media is completely mumbo jumbo… You haven't heard me say that before, because I think it's important we have a voluntary approach in this country and we're going to keep a voluntary approach,” he said.
Italy is the latest country to make vaccination compulsory for some, with all over-50s now being told to have a jab. Earlier, Austria was among the first countries to make vaccination a legal requirement.
Johnson said while Omicron is milder than previous variants, "the pressures on hospitals are clear". He pointed out that the National Health Service (NHS) was under "huge pressure" at the moment and that it was a “tragedy” that some people were refusing what would keep them safe and out of hospital.
"What a tragedy that we've got all this pressure on the NHS, all the difficulties that our doctors and nurses are experiencing, and we've got people out there spouting complete nonsense about vaccination,” he said.
"The saddest words in the English language are 'too late'. When you're in ICU and you haven't been vaccinated, sadly it's too late to get vaccinated, so get boosted now," he added.
NHS England announced that around 90 per cent of over-50s have now received their third top up booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and that millions of appointments remain available for anyone yet to get boosted.
"It is brilliant to see so many people getting their vital top-up dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with 90 per cent of those eligible aged 50 and over now boosted, and more than 29 million boosters given in total,” said Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme.
"Vaccination gives the best protection for you and your loved ones against coronavirus, so if you’re eligible – please get boosted now,” she said.
Meanwhile, the government hopes that the peak of the Omicron variant wave will be hit quite soon after the UK recorded over 190,000 daily infections. The requirement for a confirmatory PCR test to follow a positive lateral flow test conducted on a home testing kit has been scrapped in an attempt to relieve some of the pressures on testing laboratories and also to address staff absences by containing self-isolation for milder cases to seven days.
A six-month-old speech by President Xi Jinping on the need to preserve jobs and shore up growth was splashed across China's main financial newspapers on Monday, signaling greater urgency to bolster the economy after lockdowns brought Shanghai and other major cities to a halt. In the remarks, Xi voiced support for the “healthy development” of the private sector and entrepreneurs, but also warned that regulators must prevent “capital predators” from acting recklessly.
Most of Shanghai has stopped the spread of the coronavirus in the community and fewer than 1 million people remain under strict lockdown, authorities said Monday, as the city moves toward reopening and economic data showed the gloomy impact of China's “zero-COVID" policy. Vice Mayor Zong Ming said 15 out of Shanghai's 16 districts had eliminated virus transmission among those not already in quarantine.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new prime minister of Sri Lanka who was sworn-in last Thursday, is likely to address the country on Monday, in what would be the first national address of his record sixth term as the island nation's premier. During the speech, Wickremesinghe will present the 'full picture' of Sri Lanka's current economic crisis, its worst since 1948 when it gained independence from British rule.
Shanghai aims to reopen broadly and allow normal life to resume from June 1, a city official said on Monday, after declaring that 15 of its 16 districts had eliminated cases outside quarantine areas. The city plans to gradually increase domestic flights and rail services, and from Monday will begin reopening supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies.
The United States witnessed two mass shootings within 48 hours, one of which was confirmed as racially motivated. In the Buffalo supermarket shooting, the gunman, identified as a white 18-year-old man, killed 10 and wounded three, most of them Black. On Sunday, a gunman went on a rampage at a church near Los Angeles, killing one and leaving four others in "critical" condition, as per the officials.