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Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that his government could bring back mandatory wearing of face masks, advise people to work from home (WFH) and, make use vaccine passports compulsory if a spike in cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) during this winter threatens to overwhelm the National Health Service (NHS), news agency Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Unveiling his winter plan on Tuesday, Johnson told a press conference that he hoped a strengthened vaccination program- beginning from next week and includes booster shots for the over-50s and vaccines for children as young as 12, will be enough to keep Covid-19 under control.

According to a report by the BBC, the winter plan has been divided into two parts — Plan A and Plan B. Under Plan A, which was announced by health secretary Sajid Javid, ministers will encourage the unvaccinated people to take the vaccine dose, provide vaccines to children between 12-15 years and start a booster programme for millions, the BBC report said. The plan will also comprise continuing testing, tracing infections and self-isolating those who have Covid-19, it added.

Under plan B, compulsory vaccine passports might be used for mass events, face masks might be legally mandated in some places, people will be urged to be more cautious and might also be advised to work from home, the above report also said. However, this plan will only be imposed if the NHS is under pressure.

The UK has so far recorded 7,282,810 cases, 134,446 deaths and 5,847,593 recoveries due to the coronavirus disease. On Tuesday, the country saw another high of 26,628 new cases. Despite the daily tally remaining high, the government has regarded the current pandemic pressure on the NHS as “manageable”.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty, said during Tuesday’s press conference that while Covid-19 cases had stabilised to some extent, the UK is approaching the most difficult part of the year, adding the number of infected patients is “drifting up” and variable across the country. “We are entering the winter with this reasonably high level and it wouldn’t take many doubling times to get into trouble,” Whitty further said.

Meanwhile, a person, on the condition of anonymity, told Bloomberg that the government might bring back the legislation to enforce a regional or national lockdown in the UK as a last resort.

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