A PUBLIC health boss has called for the government to introduce its ‘Plan B’ to tackle rising coronavirus infection rates next month.

Professor Dominic Harrison warned failure to do so risks the return of lockdowns in the run up to Christmas.

The Blackburn with Darwen director of public health said the current ‘Plan A’, with its reliance on vaccination and booster jabs, looks unlikely to to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He said in the interim people should take their own measures by wearing face masks and washing their hand more regularly.

Prof Harrison spoke out as the Association of Directors of Public Health, the British Medical Association and the Labour Party all called for an early move to the National Covid ‘Plan B’.

This would include mandatory mask wearing for secondary schools and in enclosed public spaces; social distancing in public areas; the return of ‘work from home if you can’ advice; and vaccine passports for mass gatherings.

Prof Harrison said: “We are now in our third week of double digit weekly case rate rises for Covid-19 in England.

“If this increase in seven- day case rates continues, it is unlikely that the rollout of the ‘booster jabs’ for the older and most vulnerable will be either sufficient or rapid enough to match the increased risk of rising hospitalisations over the next eight weeks.

“For this reason it would make sense to consider implementing further ‘Plan B’ measures by the second week of November at the latest.

“Evidence and support for a re-introduction of mandatory mask wearing is strong. It would not compromise basic freedoms and it would slow down the rise in cases.

“If cases continue to rise into the second week of November and we do not act, we risk having to take more stringent measures in December.

“No one wants that to happen.

“My advice for now is that in the absence of any ‘Plan B’ guidance from government is that there are five simple things that can help see us through the winter and prevent more disruptive measures.

“They are ensuring buildings are well-ventilated; wearing a face covering on public transport and in crowded, indoor settings; regular hand washing; high uptake of vaccinations for Covid and flu; and hybrid working wherever possible.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said at the weekend: “We’re monitoring everything, but at the moment the data does not suggest we should be immediately moving to ‘Plan B’ but of course we will keep an eye on that and the plans are ready.”