Hospital Dr News

Caution is needed for ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, BMA warns

A cautious and measured approach to easing lockdown restrictions is the only way to prevent another wave of Covid-19, doctors have warned.

Ahead of a review by the Government on Monday, a new report by the BMA says that any relaxation of restrictions in England must be guided by clear metrics set first and foremost against rates of infection, as well as mortality, hospital capacity, and vaccine coverage.

Healthcare experts suggest that a seven-day case rate of 10 infections or fewer per 100,000 of population would allow for a safe and sustained return to a more normal social and economic life.

This roughly equates to 1,000 cases per day across the UK. The current average number of daily infections this week is 12,500.

 It’s recommendations for easing England’s second national lockdown in November last year were ignored, and restrictions were relaxed before rates of the virus had been brought to a sufficiently low level.

The NHS is facing its largest-ever backlog of care, with more than 200,000 patients waiting over 12 months for operations, and its exhausted workforce stretched like never before.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of council at the BMA, said: “This is a pivotal moment in the next phase of this pandemic, which is why we must proceed with absolute caution when it comes to considering how and when lockdown restrictions might be eased.

“Infection rates are thankfully falling, but they are doing so from an incredibly high peak, and the numbers mask the precarious situation that the NHS is still in.

“Thousands are still in hospital being treated for Covid-19, waiting times for elective care are getting longer, and staff in hospitals and general practice are being stretched in every direction to the detriment of their own health and wellbeing.”

Caution needed

There have been over 120,000 Covid-related deaths so far in the UK.

The Government is targetting 8 March for pupils to return to school.

Wrigley added: “A cautious approach to easing lockdown must go hand-in-hand with the successful NHS vaccine rollout, as even the most efficient immunisation operation won’t be enough to prevent further waves of infection if restrictions are lifted too soon.”

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