The UK needs to act fast to stop coronavirus cases growing out of control, with a delay of even a few days potentially “dangerous”, according to an academic who advises the Government.
Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine, Imperial College London, said a “trickle” of cases can turn into a “cascade”, adding that if people do not abide by the “rule of six” now then the country faces going back into “hard lockdown”.
His comments come as concerns grow over an increase in Covid-19 cases in care homes, prompting the Government to send an alert to care providers to highlight the rising rates and to call for action. The letter, which was sent on Friday, urges care bosses to “take the necessary action to prevent and limit outbreaks”, pointing out that in the last three days there had been an increase in notifications of coronavirus cases in care homes.
At the moment it is the workforce that is most affected, but the letter says that “clearly” there is a risk that the virus will spread to residents and in some cases already has.
Prof Openshaw, who is a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) which advises the Government on the threat posed by new and emerging respiratory viruses, said if the virus is in care homes it will inevitably lead to hospital admissions and deaths. Speaking on Sky’s Ridge On Sunday, he said: “We know that these are very vulnerable pockets. It’s not just in the younger people, it’s starting to appear in people more vulnerable and that inevitably is going to be followed by hospital admissions and deaths so we need to act quickly.