Health experts have been warning of a possible second wave of coronavirus for months. As coronavirus cases top 8 million globally and new cases surge across the country and around the world, some doctors and scientists say the second wave is already upon us.
But others caution that this recent uptick, which many attributes to loosened lockdown restrictions and people not following social distancing protocols, is not evidence of a second wave, but rather a continuation of the first.
In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal, ministers were warned that urgent action would be needed to prevent further loss of life.
The presidents of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, Nursing, Physicians, and GPs all signed the letter.
It comes after Boris Johnson announced sweeping changes to England’s lockdown.
The Department of Health said it would continue to be guided by the latest scientific advice and would give the NHS “whatever it needs“.
Meanwhile, the latest figures show a further 154 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, across all settings, taking the total to 43,081.
For public health and medical experts, the correlation seems high, even “totally predictable.” Others posit that in addition to people coming into proximity, the virus might be “catching up” to populations that had previously been uninfected.
Public health experts have warned that it’s too soon to reopen businesses and resume social activities, such as going to the lake or beach and visiting amusement parks, even with limited capacity.
Others have argued that cities must reopen to keep the economy afloat, and that protective health measures will curb coronavirus transmission in restaurants, schools, malls, and on planes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also released guidelines to help local governments identify phases for reopening, and interim suggestions for restaurants, schools, and industry.
Following the announcement, health leaders called for a “rapid and forward-looking assessment” of how prepared the UK would be for a new outbreak.
“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,” they wrote.
“Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.”
The authors of the letter, also signed by the chair of the British Medical Association, urged ministers to set up a cross-party group with a “constructive, non-partisan, four nations approach”, tasked with developing recommendations.
“The review should not be about looking back or attributing blame,” they said, and instead should focus on “areas of weakness where the action is needed urgently to prevent further loss of life and restore the economy as fully and as quickly as possible”.