COVID measures: Time for us all to listen, accept and act on government advice

By Neil Sullivan

Cases of coronavirus are rapidly increasing and the frequency of infected people in England is now about 1 in every 200 (though regional variations are significant). 

The number of cases and the rate of increase is higher in the north of England than elsewhere and hospital admissions are doubling every two weeks. Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have been told to prepare to take patients.

The surge in new cases from the younger age groups (schools and return to university) are beginning to show in the rest of the population.  Tougher restrictions are undoubtedly required and a three-tier lockdown system was announced on Monday, 12 October.

 “We all understand the damage to the economy, but squashing viral transmission is paramount if we are to return to any semblance of normal life.”

We should all get behind these measures – no-one wants this and we all understand the damage to the economy, but squashing viral transmission is paramount if we are to return to any semblance of normal life.

Schools and universities are likely to be kept open, so the hospitality sector is in the firing line – this is backed up by data that shows hospitality venues are the most frequent setting for exposure to the virus.  Delay to restrictions is a significant issue, the longer the delay, the more draconian the restrictions will have to be to control the virus.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on a coronavirus vaccine, but dates for launch are unclear and scale up / roll out will take several months.  Plus, its efficacy is as yet un-proven and we know that the immune response to coronavirus is not strong – there are cases of re-infection, so it will not be a magic bullet, we should prepare for an imperfect vaccine. 

Testing, tracing and isolation are the keys to this situation; public buy in and hence compliance is paramount. Excessive media criticism of the government and scientific advisers is not only unhelpful, but it is downright dangerous. No other politician could do any better and neither could any media representative – this is a time for us all to listen, accept and act on the advice being given.

Coronavirus data is updated regularly by the government and can be found at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/.