STAYING at home during the third national coronavirus lockdown is not enough to stop the mutant strain, one expert has warned.
Last night England was plunged into another lockdown, with everyone being advised to “stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”.
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They key message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his address to the nation last night was that “hard weeks were ahead”, as the NHS faces even more pressure due to the pandemic.
Mr Johnson said that the new variant, which was first discovered in the South, was spreading at a “rapid rate”.
This morning Professor Andrew Hayward, who is a member of the government’s Sage advisory group, highlighted that the new lockdown might not be enough to drive cases of the new strain down.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Prof Hayward, who is the director of the University College London institute of epidemiology and health care warned that Brits would have to “actively bear down” on the new strain.
He said: “I think the lockdown announced yesterday will clearly save tens of thousands of lives.
“The threat that we are facing is at least as bad as we were in March but I think the virus is different and it may be that the lockdown measures that we have are not enough.
“We need to learn from the new insights and the new technologies, we need to learn from the last lockdown.”
PROTECT KEY WORKERS
Prof Hayward said people in BAME and poorer communities needed to be protected as well as key workers, this he says, is where the highest deaths rates have been seen.
“This time round we really have to use this lockdown to bear down on the virus in a way that can both protect key workers”, he added.
In order to protect key workers, Prof Hayward suggested that employers could be using lateral flow tests for regular testing.
These tests return a positive or negative result with thirty minutes and Prof Hayward said these should be used for all key workers in order to reduce infection rates in these groups.
The last national lockdown was for four weeks in November, with the first starting in March and lasting through the spring.
STAY AT HOME
Prof Hayward said we need to take what we have learnt from those lockdowns and use them to defeat the virus.
He said: “This lockdown period we need to do more than just stay at home, waiting for the vaccine, we need to be actively bearing down on it.”
Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that “hospitals are under more pressure from Covid than at any time since the start of the pandemic”.
He stated that in England, the number of Covid patients in hospital had increased by nearly a third in the last week, sitting at almost 27,000 – a figure 40 percent higher than the first peak in April.
Mr Johnson also states that on December 29, more than 80,000 people tested positive for the coronavirus and that the number of deaths is up by 20 per cent, a figure he said “will sadly rise further”.
Professor John Edmunds, who’s a member of the government’s Sage advisory group yesterday warned that the death toll could reach over 100,000.
Prof Hayward added that this was something he is “very fearful of” and said that because of inequalities the death toll would be spread unevenly.
He added: “But I think we can do a lot to prevent that through empowering local communities and protecting key workers.
“I think regardless of that the lockdown will work and reduce cases. But if we want to do that faster, get it to lower levels so that when we come out of it we are in a much better position then we need to pay attention to those aspects that we were not paying enough attention to before – we have learnt some hard lessons.”