Wednesday 24 June 2020 9:04 am

Coronavirus: Government urged to prepare for UK second wave

The UK’s health experts have called for an urgent review to prepare the public for a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Health leaders have pressed the government to take quick action to prevent more coronavirus deaths and to protect the economy in the event of a second wave in winter across the UK.

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The open letter, published in the British Medical Journal, has the support of the chairman of the British Medical Association and the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing.

They called for a “rapid and forward-looking assessment” of England’s preparedness for a second wave.

“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 letter read.

“Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.”

It urged the government “to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase”.

The warning of a second wave in the UK follows Boris Johnson yesterday easing lockdown measures in England.

The two-metre gap will be replaced by a policy of “one metre-plus” from 4 July and two households will be able to meet for the first time since lockdown began.

Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers can reopen from 4 July too, though people are advised to avoid public transport and to wear masks if they use it.

The UK has one of the world’s worst coronavirus death tolls. But shutting non-essential shops in a lockdown that started on 23 March has caused widespread economic harm.

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The open letter said the government must work to prevent more deaths in a second wave without hurting the UK economy’s recovery.

“It should focus on those areas of weakness where action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life and restore the economy as fully and as quickly as possible,” it read.