Patients should continue to visit their GP despite the ‘direction of travel’ for Covid-19 infections going ‘in the wrong direction’.
That was the message from chief medical officer Chris Whitty in a televised live briefing of the current pandemic situation in the UK yesterday evening.
During the briefing, Professor Whitty said the situation in hospitals and intensive care units was ‘going in the wrong direction’, with increased numbers treated – particularly in the worst-affected areas of the country.
But he added: ‘Something which my colleagues in the medical profession have asked me to stress really strongly to people this evening… and that is that the NHS is absolutely open for business and it is absolutely there. Not just for emergencies – for cancer care and for all other kinds of care.
‘So what we are not saying is: “please don’t go to hospital, please don’t go to your GP” – absolutely not. We are very, very keen, as a profession as well as within Government, that that continues.’
Warning the public that there is a ‘long winter’ ahead, people were also reminded to adhere to rules on social distancing and hand washing.
But it comes as the Government’s study into the virus spread across the country, which sees hundreds of thousands of asymptomatic people tested for Covid-19, has showed the virus spread may now be slowing.
The monthly report for September showed 1 in 200 people to be infected, with the virus ‘circulating with significantly higher prevalence’ than in August.
But it suggested the reproduction (R) number had now decreased and was now at 1.1, compared to the previous 1.7.
Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial from the School of Public Health, said: ‘While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working, the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date.
‘This reinforces the need for protective measures to limit the spread of the disease and the public’s adherence to these, which will be vital to minimise further significant illness and loss of life from Covid-19.’
This week, NHS England board papers stated that a joint campaign with Public Health England will launch this month ‘to encourage the public to seek help when necessary’.
The paper also said: ‘Work is continuing to recover and restore primary care services to appropriate levels of activity including getting the balance right between phone/online and face to face appointments (which are running at around one third to one half of the total).’
Meanwhile, Londonwide LMCs have this week launched a new social media video campaign, highlighting that GP practices are open and seeing patients with cancer symptoms, using the hashtag #GPsareopen.