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NHS doctors fear second peak of Covid-19, survey shows

A second peak of Covid-19 in England this winter is the number one concern among the medical profession.

A survey of doctors by the BMA shows that 86% of more than 8,000 doctors and medical students who responded said that a second peak was likely or very likely in the next six months.

The findings come after daily cases in the UK increased to more than 3,500 on Friday, and as the R number rose to above 1 for the first time since March – meaning the epidemic is growing once again.

Doctors say the failure of the test and trace system, lack of monitoring and adherence to infection control measures in public places, and confusing public health messages on physical distancing and face coverings, are the main risks to causing a second peak.

When asked about the impact of measures to help prevent a second peak, doctors said that a fit for purpose test and trace system that is accessible and provides timely results, as well as a coherent, rapid and consistent approach to local outbreaks were the two most important.

They also highlighted the need for clearer public information and more visible messaging on rules and guidelines, including those on people mixing with others from outside their household.

As new rules come in today limiting the number of people who can meet to six, the BMA says this is an opportunity for the Government to end ambiguity and double down on ensuring people are adhering to infection control measures.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “We, as a profession, want, above all, to avoid a return to the scenes we saw in April, when hospitals were full with Covid-19 patients, and hundreds were dying every day. Meanwhile, thousands of others missed out on vital appointments and procedures as routine care was put on hold.

“But while the forecast in this survey may be bleak, it is not an inevitability if the Government takes decisive, robust and timely action to stamp down the spread of the infection.”

He added that the test and trace system needed sorting out “once and for all”.

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