Britain must prepare for the “real risk” of a second wave of the coronavirus, health leaders have warned Boris Johnson, after the Prime Minister confirmed that a raft of lockdown measures will be eased in England.
A joint letter from the leaders of Britain’s medical royal colleges, published in the British Medical Journal, says “substantial challenges” remain should the UK be confronted with a second widespread outbreak of Covid-19. And it urges Mr Johnson to make sure Britain is “adequately prepared” for a second phase.
The group of health leaders are backing calls for a cross-party commission that can produce “practical recommendations for action” on avoiding a second spike of the virus. “Several countries are now experiencing covid-19 flare-ups,” they say. “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." Boris Johnson says he "will not hesitate" to re-introduce lockdown measures at a local and national level if Covid-19 infection rates spike.
The Prime Minister said that although he was happy to proceed with the reopening of large parts of the hospitality industry on July 4 — along with allowing two households to meet up indoors — he would reverse relaxations should the number of cases begin to climb again.
He told the Government's final daily coronavirus briefing: "If the virus begins to run out of control, I will not hesitate to put on the handbrake and reverse some of these changes at a local and national level if required. There is no doubt we are beating back this virus, and with your continued co-operation and good judgement, we will beat it once and for all."
The warning came as the UK's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said the easing of measures was "absolutely not risk free" and made clear the Government may have to "go back on" some decisions if infections rise.