UK lockdown enforcement is “too lax” to control the spread of coronavirus and restrictions as tough as those seen in March are needed to bring down infection rates, a Sage member has warned.
“You put those two things together, alongside the NHS being in crisis, we should have a stricter rather than less strict lockdown than we had back in March,” Ms Michie warned.
It came after London mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” in the capital due to pressure on the NHS from Covid-19.
Data from the Office for National Statistics this week suggested that as many as one in 30 Londoners have the virus, while there were more than 7,000 people in hospital with Covid-19, as of Friday.
Police ask public to report non-emergencies online due to staff self-isolating
Greater Manchester Police has asked members of the public to report non-emergencies online as a number of communications staff are self-isolating,
The force said a number of staff in the Operational Communications Branch (OCB), which receives 101 calls, were having to self-isolate for Covid-19 reasons and staff from the Transport Unit were assisting the department with calls.
“All of our staff in OCB have worked extremely hard throughout this pandemic to help keep the communities in Greater Manchester safe and our technology has enabled many to work from home,” Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey said.
“However, inevitably, some of our officers and staff will be affected by the ongoing pandemic and may need to self-isolate for the safety of themselves, their colleagues and the public and we are supporting them in doing so.
“We have therefore had to redeploy some of our resources from the Transport Unit to assist colleagues in OCB on a temporary basis.”
Mr Bailey added: “Answering calls from members of the public is vital and moving officers into the department can help us to deliver our normal service. This is why we’re continuing to ask the public to report any non-emergencies online where possible.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock will be appearing on Sky News tomorrow to answer questions about the immense pressure on the NHS this month:
Police crackdown on lockdown rule breakers
Police forces across the country have said they will enforce coronavirus rules more strictly amid reports that the government is considering even tougher legislation to ensure people stay at home this month.
Our reporter, Peter Stubley, has the full story below:
Situation in hospitals likely to get worse before it gets better, expert warns
The situation with coronavirus patients in hospitals is likely to get worse before it gets better, the deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee has warned.
Dr Simon Walsh said the experience from the first wave indicated that things were likely to worsen over the next two to three weeks.
“I’m afraid all of us who are working on the front line believe, and this is based on the evidence I’m afraid, that it is going to get worse before it gets better,” Dr Walsh told BBC Breakfast.
He added that critical care was having to be spread “more and more thinly”, with as many as three patients per intensive care nurse, rather than the usual standard of one-to-one care.
“They need to ensure that PPE supply is there when we need it, because we were let down I’m afraid in the first wave by that, and so our confidence needs to be restored by the government in vaccinating and ensuring that those PPE items are in place,” he said.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has reiterated the government’s ‘stay at home’ message this morning:
Covid variant should be treated as ‘new pandemic within pandemic’
Dr Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has said that the new coronavirus variant should be treated as a “new pandemic within a pandemic”.
Dr Kucharski, a Sage member, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “The early signals we’re seeing are suggesting that there is probably less movement in the population than there was in November but perhaps slightly more than there was in April, and obviously that’s concerning because, with this new variant, essentially each interaction we have has become riskier than it was before.
“Even if we went back to that last spring level of reduction in contacts, we couldn’t be confident we would see the same effects as we saw last year because of the increased transmission.
“To some extent we can think of this as a new pandemic within a pandemic.”
He added: “From the data coming out, this is a very serious threat and new data from PHE [Public Health England] that came out yesterday suggested that that risk per contact is probably 40-50 per cent higher than it was.
“So both for the UK, and many other countries as well, we need to get away from this idea that we’re going to see a repeat of what happened last spring with our behaviours and really face the possibility that this is much riskier and we’re going to have to work much harder to reduce the impact.”
Dr Rupert Pearse, an intensive care doctor in London, has told Sky News this morning that the second wave of coronavirus deaths will last until at least the end of January:
Full impact on hospitals of Christmas spike in cases ‘still to come’
Hospitals have not yet seen the full extent of patients who caught coronavirus over the Christmas period, Birmingham City Council’s director of public health has said.
Dr Justin Varney told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we’re very worried. What we’re seeing now is in the hospital today are the people going in who caught coronavirus about two to three weeks ago.
“So we still haven’t seen the impact in the NHS of the rapid rise that we saw around 28-29 December after the Christmas bubble and after we started to see the new variant arriving in the region.”
He added: “It is going to get a lot, lot worse unless we really get this under control but some of that is already baked into the system and it is going to play out over the next week or two.”
‘Major incident’ in London as one in 30 have virus
London mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a “major incident” in the capital as data shows as many as one in 30 people have coronavirus in the city.
Mr Khan warned hospitals in London were “at risk of being overwhelmed”, with beds likely to run out within the next two weeks unless the spread of the virus slows dramatically.
Our political editor, Andrew Woodcock, has the full story below:
Current lockdown ‘too lax’ and tighter rules needed, Sage member warns
The UK’s current lockdown is “too lax” and tighter rules like those seen in March are needed to control the spread of coronavirus, a Sage member has warned.
Susan Michie, professor of health psychology at University College London, said the faster-spreading variant and worse conditions in winter meant tougher restrictions were necessary to bring infection rates under control.
“When you look at the data, it shows that almost 90 per cent of people are overwhelmingly sticking to the rules despite the fact we’re also seeing more people out and about,” Ms Michie told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“I think one of the explanations for that is that actually this is quite a lax lockdown because we’ve still got a lot of household contact, people go in and out of each other’s houses.
“If you’re a key nurse, a non-essential tradesperson, a nanny, you have mass gatherings in terms of religious events, nurseries being open and, really importantly, you have this wide definition of critical workers so we have 30-50 per cent of [school] classes full-up at the moment and therefore you’ve got very busy public transport with people going to and from all these things.”
She added: “It is definitely too lax, because if you think about it and compare ourselves with March, what do we have now?
“We have the winter season and the virus survives longer in the cold, plus people spend more time indoors and we know aerosol transmission, which happens indoors, is a very big source of transmission for this virus.
“And secondly we have this new variant which is 50-70 per cent more infectious. You put those two things together, alongside the NHS being in crisis, we should have a stricter rather than less strict lockdown than we had back in March.”