In the United Kingdom, health leaders have called for an urgent action to determine whether it is properly prepared for the potential risk of a second wave of COVID-19, the infection caused by the novel coronavirus.
A letter was published in the British Medical Journal, which was signed by the presidents from the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, Nursing, Physicians, and General Practitioners.
In the letter, ministers have been warned to take urgent action to prevent further loss of life.
The warning comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sweeping changes to England’s lockdown, stating pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and hairdressers will be able to reopen from 4 July.
The 2-meter social-distancing rule will be replaced with a “one-meter plus” rule. This means people should stay at least 2 meters apart wherever possible, or else they should remain at least 1 meter apart while taking steps to reduce the risk of transmission and wear facemasks. However, the 2-meter rule will remain in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
After the prime minister’s announcement, health officials have called for a “rapid and forward-looking assessment” of how the UK is prepared to face the risk of a second wave of the virus.
The health leaders wrote in the letter, “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. Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.”
They have also urged ministers to set up a cross-party group with a “constructive, non-partisan, four nations approach,” in association with developing practical guidelines.
“The review should not be about looking back or attributing blame,” they added, and instead should focus on “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.”
On Tuesday, Johnson said he did not believe there was “a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS.”
However, the prime minister has warned all these steps were “reversible.”
Businesses, which are set to reopen in a couple of weeks, are waiting for the government recommendations on how to reopen and operate safely during the pandemic.
According to initial guidelines, businesses should keep customers’ contact details for 21 days to support the track and trace system. However, in most cases, the government has told businesses that more detailed recommendations will follow soon. In the United Kingdom, COVID-19 has affected more than 306,000 people and killed over 42,900 so far. Globally, the virus has sickened more than 9.3 million and killed over 479,000 people, according to worldometer.info.