UK Medical News: Academy of Medical Sciences Warns All Concerned To Prepare Now For Winter COVID-19 Peak
UK Medical News
: Medical experts at the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) are warning that Britain must prepare now for a potential new wave of COVID-19 infections that could be worse than the first.
The report: Preparing for a challenging winter 2020/21
calls for ‘intense preparation’ throughout the rest of July and August to reduce the risk of the health service being overwhelmed by a second wave, as it already grapples with existing disruption caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and a backlog of patients awaiting medical attention. https://acmedsci.ac.uk/file-download/51353957
These additional pressures are compounding already typical challenges normally faced by the health service during the winter season, such as flu outbreaks, a rise in other infectious diseases, and worsening of common conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In order to help prepare for this, the report stresses that urgent action is needed now to minimize transmission of coronavirus in the community, and reorganize health and social care staff and facilities to maintain COVID-19 and COVID-19-free zones.
Also, It is essential to ensure there is adequate PPE and testing and system-wide infection-control measures to minimize transmission in hospitals and care homes, it says.
Drug supplies, ventilators, CPAP machines, medical equipment and other necessary supplies need to be stocked up well in advance to be able to meet the demand during those critical periods.
The new report also calls for increased capacity of the test, trace and isolate programme to cope with the overlapping symptoms of COVID-19, flu and other winter infections, and establishment of a comprehensive, near-real-time, population-wide surveillance system to monitor and manage a winter wave.
Although the AMS does note that there is 'a high degree of uncertainty' about how the COVID-19 epidemic will evolve in the UK over the coming months, it suggests a 'reasonable worst-case scenario' to prepare for is one where the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to (Rt value) rises to 1.7 from September 2020 onwards.
Current modelling of this scenario suggests there would be a peak in hospital admissions and deaths in January and February 2021, similar to or worse than the first wave in spring 2020, coinciding with a period of peak demand on the NHS.
On an optimistic level, this could result in up to 119,000 COVID-19 related hospital deaths between September 2020 and June 2021 if no action is taken (the figures also don't take into account recent trial results with the steroid dexamethasone, which could also reduce deaths).
Professor Stephen Holgate FMedSci, a respiratory specialist from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, who chaired the report warned, “This is not a prediction, but it is a possibility. The modelling suggests that deaths could be higher with a new wave of COVID-19 this winter, but the risk of this happening could be reduced if we take action immediately.”
He added, “With relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases at the moment, this is a critical window of opportunity to help us prepare for the worst that winter can throw at us.”
Besides medical professionals, the common people should also start stocking up on necessities ie food, medical supplies, masks etc well in advance and not panic when lockdowns and disruptions emerge again.
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