The UK must be prepared and equipped to deal with a second wave of COVID-19 an open letter to the BMJ, has stated.
The letter, signed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Nursing, Surgeons, Physicians, and GPs, warns that ‘while the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare-ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk.’
The signatories of the letter also urge the Government to set up a review of what needs to be done to prevent a second wave. The letter states:
‘The review should not be about looking back or attributing blame. Rather it should be a rapid and forward looking assessment of national preparedness, based on an examination of the complex and inter-related policy areas listed below. These are too broad for any one of the existing select committees.’
‘That is why a cross party commission was suggested, establishing a constructive, non-partisan, four nations approach that could rapidly produce practical recommendations for action, based on what we have all learnt, and without itself becoming a distraction for those at the front line or in government. These Recommendations should not require primary legislation or major organisational change. The approach would also help the public understand how and by whom they will be implemented. We believe this will be essential if the UK is to get ahead of the curve.’
The letter comes as millions of people shielding from COVID-19 will be advised they can spend more time outside their homes from 6 July. Those who are shielding and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, following the same rules already in place for the wider population.
From 1 August, the guidance will then be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain available from NHS volunteers and local councils. People will retain their priority for supermarket delivery slots, and still be able to access help with shopping, medication, phone calls and transport to medical appointments.
‘I want to thank all those who have been shielding for so many weeks for their commitment to the shielding programme. I know this has been incredibly tough. Shielding has involved not leaving your house for months, not seeing people you care about, not being able to wander to the park for some fresh air, or even pop to the shops for something you need. This sacrifice has been for a purpose, and I want to thank every single one of you,’ said Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary.
‘We knew it was a difficult ask, but these measures have been vital in saving lives. Now, with infection rates continuing to fall in our communities, our medical experts have advised that we can now ease some of these measures, while keeping people safe.’