HEALTH CHIEFS have urged Boris Johnson to begin planning for a second wave of coronavirus.
There are concerns that the virus is still too prevalent for lockdown to be eased. Some health experts are demanding further easing is held off until a comprehensive track and trace system is functioning. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, explained to the Guardian: “The real concern is that we dont have that same degree of trust, because were not having the kind of honest and open debates that we need.
“We seem to be resorting to kind of fairly cheap political rhetoric about stuff being world-class, when it clearly isnt.”
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: “We absolutely dont want any more relaxation until we are confident that the test and trace system is working both at national and local level.”
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs also added: “I think the criticism that we cant see a strategy is a legitimate criticism.
“We need a strategy for test and trace, for PPE, for the use of technology, for maintaining Covid services and opening up non-Covid services.”
In the most recent update, a further 204 deaths from coronavirus were announced.
This puts the official UK death toll at 40,465.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hanock and Home Secretary Priti Patel have called on Britons to avoid mass gatherings, as demonstrations have been organised to protest the death of George Floyd in police custody in the USA.
Scientists have said any mass gatherings in the current climate runs the risk of spreading infection.
Keith Neal, Nottingham Universitys emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases, explained: “Any mass gathering risks significant numbers of further cases.
“There is clear evidence that banning mass gatherings was one of the most effective and important parts of the lockdowns across European countries.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We will continue to be guided by the latest scientific advice – including from world-renowned epidemiologists – and give the NHS whatever it needs, as we have done throughout this unprecedented pandemic.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of NHS staff, hospitals have not been overwhelmed and intensive care capacity continues to meet the needs of patients. Our new NHS Test and Trace service is also up and running and anyone in this country with symptoms can book a test, with the majority getting their results back within a day.”
The NHS contact tracing app is currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight.
Business and Innovation Under-Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has previously indicated it will be ready for launch by the end of the month.
However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4s Today Programme earlier this week: “Anyone who downloads an app on their phone knows it is forever being updated and bugs squashed and all the rest of it.
“Apps are never complete in that sense.”
Tony Prestedge, chief operating officer for the contact tracing system, is said to have told employers the app would be “imperfect and clunky”, with it not being world-class until “September or October time.”
The idea behind contact tracing is notifying people if they have been in close contact with someone who has been found to have coronavirus.
Under the plans, contact tracers will get in touch with people who have been in close contact and advise them to self-isolate for 14 days.
It is hoped that with effective contact tracing, lockdowns can become localised.
On Newsnight this week, Greg Fell, the director of Public Health Sheffield indicated he would need regular updates of data to spot trends and effectively contact trace.