WITH local lockdowns in parts of the country amid a “spike” in cases, there is talk of Covid-19’s second coming.
Is this the start of the feared second wave? A sign things are about to get worse? The precursor to another national lockdown?
It is understandable people are worried – even frightened, given what we have been through.
But the simple answer is no, it is not the second wave.
It’s much more likely that we are seeing the ripples from the first wave hitting different areas at different times.
London was hit hard and fast at the beginning, so it stands to reason that area might start to see the first signs of hope.
The country’s R rate shows we are teetering on the edge but that is exactly what should be happening.
We should be as close to that crucial threshold of one as possible – it is a sign we are balancing controlling the epidemic with the desperate need to get the economy moving again.
Does the easing of lockdown measures lead to increased transmission?
Last Sunday, we saw cases rise above the Government’s daily target of 1,000.
By last Monday, it was back down to 816.
It is hard to say exactly what caused the rise but testing is a factor.
Tests are now available to everyone, so we will discover more cases.
But when you look at the number of cases in the wider context, it is not so worrying.
We are not seeing an increase in people being admitted to hospital with Covid-19
There isn’t a sudden surge in patients needing ventilators, or a spike in deaths.
It is likely more young people are catching the virus, as restrictions ease and people take advantage of life getting back to some sort of normality.
Kickstarting economy is vital
Younger people are less likely to suffer a severe form of the disease so are at lower risk.
Older people and those who have been shielding are likely being more cautious as lockdown eases, and rightly so.
Lives and livelihoods
I hear talk about how the Government is choosing between lives and livelihoods.
But it is not that simple. The economy’s health directly impacts our mental and physical wellbeing.
Job losses, financial worries and uncertainty can cause a surge in mental health problems right now but also in the future.
People with lower incomes are at higher risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes and other disabling diseases that can lead to an early death.
Likewise, schools staying shut too long can have a negative impact.
Children with lower academic performance are more likely to grow up to have lower incomes and poorer physical health.
Lower academic attainment makes it more likely for a child to develop unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking – still the biggest cause of preventable deaths in this country.
It just shows how important a good and prospering economy is for the nation’s long-term health.
The Government’s focus on kickstarting the economy is vital for the longer-term health of everyone.
And while more local lockdowns are likely, there are things we can all do to try to prevent them.
Wash your hands as often as possible.
Maintain social distancing and wear a face covering where you are asked to – on public transport, in shops, museums, galleries and places of worship.
Don’t judge someone if they aren’t wearing one. They might have an “invisible” illness – such as respiratory problems, autism or dementia.
Vitally, get tested if you feel ill.
Around one in every 1,800 people has coronavirus at the moment, so it is fairly unlikely that you will come into contact with someone who has Covid-19.
But if you do show symptoms or fall ill, you have a unique opportunity to make sure the virus stops with you.
Take the test – and if it comes back positive, work with NHS Test And Trace to make sure you do all you can to stop the virus in its tracks.
We should relish this opportunity to do our bit to make a difference.
By doing the right thing and following the guidelines, you can stop coronavirus spreading . . . and potentially stop countless others getting it too.
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