We are now well into the second month of lockdown. Easing Coronavirus restrictions is increasingly being called for. However, this must be done carefully and at the appropriate point. Easing Coronavirus restrictions too soon risks a new outbreak.
All the signs are that it is going to be a long haul to get back to normal. On many measures, we have passed the peak in terms of hospital deaths. Deaths and infections outside of the NHS, particularly in the care sector, remain a worry. However, the mortality rate is still way above the seasonal norm. This figure is far higher than in other countries. Excess mortality is a strong sign of the Government’s failure to lockdown quickly enough. The Office of National Statistics data is running behind the governments updates but has proven to be a better guide than the Government data.
Easing Coronavirus restrictions too soon risks a new outbreak.
Thankfully in Shropshire, we haven’t been decimated to the same extent as other areas. However, we have still seen over 530 cases of Coronavirus in the Shropshire Council area. The combined numbers for SaTH trust as of Monday the 4th of May are:
- Cases: 813
- Deaths: 104
- Deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust: 93
- Deaths at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital near Oswestry: 5
- Deaths at Shropshire Community Health Trust: 6
Compared to the national mortality rate Shropshire’s rate is generally higher (134 per 100,000 people) than the coronavirus mortality rate (15 per 100,000 people). This is good but we shouldn’t be complacent about that. Nationally Care home deaths linked to coronavirus have risen by over 2,500 in a week. In Shropshire , as of Monday the 4th, the total deaths reported to Care Quality England is 30. Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS). Last week we learnt that 17 care homes in Shropshire were battling coronavirus infections. Even in the relative isolation of the Isle of Skye, coronavirus has ravaged a care home, with one death, all of the residents and most of the staff battling infection.
There is a growing call for the UK to ease Coronavirus restrictions. In a practical sense, this will happen gradually but we will hear more about this on Sunday. However, any easing mustn’t be done prematurely or we risk a resurgent virus, many more deaths and another long period of lockdown. Coronavirus restrictions are going to be around until an antivirus can be found. This will take a long time, despite some of the press coverage spinning this as just around the corner. It isn’t. The New York Times has an excellent interactive explanation.
New Tork Times has produced an excellent interactive article called: How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take?
The government have been behind the curve from the start. They were at least two weeks late locking down. We could all see developments in Italy escalate with horror. Meanwhile, the government equivocated, messed about with a deadly herd immunity strategy and ignored WHO advice.
We have passed the peak
Excess Mortality rate means we mustn’t contemplate easing Coronavirus restrictions too soon
The excess mortality rate compared to what we usually see is a good guide to the impact of Coronavirus. If we end lockdown or ease Coronavirus restrictions too quickly we put the lives of tens of thousands of people at risk. It is too soon to say it the excess mortality rate has peaked but the week 17 data looks encouraging.
Open the latest ONS bulletin
Easing Coronavirus restrictions will increase demand for PPE.
The availability of PPE remains an issue in many areas. It is appalling that the government left key workers short of PPE for weeks on end, when they knew what was coming and could have done something about it. As we ease lockdown PPE supplies will become stretched again. The government must make sure enough PPE is available for all key workers on the front line and for anybody who needs it as restrictions ease and they return to working in socially distant workplaces. So far the Government’s record on PPE has been abysmal.
It is critical that our communities stand together and continue to observe the social distancing regulations if we are going to overcome this virus in the foreseeable future. Easing Coronavirus restrictions too soon will be risks a new outbreak. As things ease we will still need to practice social distancing. We will still need to shield vulnerable members of the community. We will still need to work at home if we can.
Read my previous Coronavirus update here and signup to my newsletter below for more regular updates.