DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Sajid Javid is right – we must protect our freedoms

What better start could there be to 2022? Despite the best efforts of those who would condemn us to an endless cycle of lockdowns, we managed to see in the New Year free from most Covid restrictions.

Now in today’s Mail, Health Secretary Sajid Javid gives the strongest signal yet that there is no need for any further curbs in the foreseeable future.

We couldn’t agree more. And there is a wealth of statistics to back him up.

Thanks to a tremendous vaccination surge, more frequent testing and the relative weakness of the Omicron strain, rising infections have not translated into dangerously high hospitalisations. Even NHS Providers chief Chris Hopson says hospitals are coping, and sees no immediate need for more draconian measures.

In today’s Mail, Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured on December 19) gives the strongest signal yet that there is no need for any further curbs in the foreseeable future

Meanwhile, in South Africa, the authorities are so confident that Omicron has passed its peak (with little impact on death or hospitalisation rates) they have lifted a night-time curfew after 21 months.

True, there are still problems with NHS staff absences due to Covid, but that will be eased considerably by the cut in the isolation period from ten days to seven.

It’s surely time to follow the US and Greece and reduce it to five, as long as symptoms have eased and some minor precautions are still taken.

Given the scale of infections, Mr Javid can hardly say the threat is over. But he makes the overriding point that we must learn to live with the virus – rather than panic at the first hint of any new variant.

It has taken courage to hold out against the bulk of the scientific establishment. Most scientists, however, are coming round to his and Boris Johnson’s way of thinking.

What Britain needs now is to look forward. The economic indicators for 2022 are overwhelmingly positive and this country is ready to take off. We cannot let our wings be clipped again.

Failing our youth

Two more young lives brutally snuffed out. Two more grieving mothers. Two more cold statistics on the police murder file.

The story is depressingly familiar, yet still deeply shocking. Within half an hour on Thursday, two boys aged 15 and 16 were stabbed to death in separate London parks.

That brings the number of teenagers killed in blade attacks this year in the capital to a record 30. What an appalling indictment of London mayor Sadiq Khan.

On his watch, the death toll is almost twice as high as the average over the eight years of his predecessor Boris Johnson.

Police tape is seen at Ashburton Park in Croydon, south London, where London’s 29th stabbing victim died on Thursday night 

Mr Khan constantly wrings his hands over knife crime, but has failed to stem the carnage – despite shelling out £62million on an ineffectual ‘violence reduction unit’.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick is no better. Her abject failure to reclaim the streets has let the problem escalate to epidemic proportions.

As victims and perpetrators come dis-proportionately from the black community, there are, of course, racial sensitivities.

But until the police, mayor’s office and community leaders overcome them to agree a decisive, joined-up strategy, the bloodletting will only get worse. Boys will go on dying. Their uncomprehending mothers will go on grieving.

The best of British

There are those who love to talk Britain down. But the achievements of those named in the New Year honours show what a truly extraordinary country this is.

From Covid heroes, through sporting champions, scientists, thespians and political luminaries, the list bristles with talent and quality.

Even that icon of revolutionary Trotskyism Vanessa Redgrave has graciously agreed to accept a damehood.

If that glittering array doesn’t make you proud to be British, nothing will.

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