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BMA warns against ‘complacent’ easing of Covid-19 lockdown

This is not the time to become complacent in the efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, the BMA has warned, pointing out that today’s lockdown easing comes as there is still ‘significant’ community spread.

The doctors’ union said this comes as a new BMA survey of 7,000 doctors showed almost half (48%) are not confident in their ability to manage a second influx of Covid-19 cases.

Pointing to the latest ONS data which showed that there are currently an estimated 8,000 new cases daily, the BMA said the Government must ‘support’ the public in ‘adhering to social distancing and infection control measures as restrictions are relaxed’.

It also said it must take a ‘widescale, accurare and systematic approach to its testing and tracing programme, and take measures to mitigate ‘the public and workers’ from spreading the virus when carrying out ‘essential duties’.

The news comes as the Government launched its test and trace system last week and said people would be allowed to meet with several people from other households outside from today.

The Government also made a surprise annoncement this weekend saying shielded patients can leave their homes from today, as infection rates have dropped.

But Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: ‘As the Government relaxes lockdown measures, we absolutely must not forget that the infection rate in the community remains worryingly high, with 8,000 new cases daily. The risk from this highly infectious illness remains significant and if there is further spread thousands more families could lose loved ones before their time.’

‘That is why it’s vital that we have a fully functioning system of test, trace and isolate running seamlessly now with full transparency.’

Dr Nagpaul said doctors ‘understand the impact that lockdown has had on people’s health and wellbeing and how eager people are to return to some semblance of normal life’ but warned that this ‘must be done gradually and sensibly’.

He added that doctors who ‘have been working tirelessly during the pandemic’, many of which have ‘already lost their own lives’, are ‘rightfully worried about the devastating impact a second peak could have for their patients, the health service and the wider population’ and said: ‘This is not the time to be complacent.’

BMA survey question in full

How confident are you about your ability to manage patient demand if there is a second peak of Covid-19?

Not at all confident at all – 1,924 (18%)

Not very confident – 2,149 (29.57%)

Source: BMA survey of 7,268 doctors during 26-28 May