This week, health leaders warned that a 'second wave' of the coronavirus is likely, and that the UK should be more prepared. Two experts in the spread of disease from the University of Warwick commented on the story.
Dr Louise Dyson is an Assistant Professor in Epidemiology. She says:
“Until now the relaxations made to lockdown primarily allowed more interactions outdoors. The proposed releasing of so many lockdown restrictions simultaneously, including allowing more contact indoors, without an effective test and trace scheme, represents a serious risk of the R number rising above one.
“When R is above one, this leads to a fast growth in the number of cases, which may not be detected in the data for several weeks, and any future tightening of restrictions in response will take time to have an effect. To keep R below one we, as a society, must decide which of the potential relaxations are most important to us, because every relaxation we take must be ‘paid for’ by other restrictions staying in place.”
Dr Ed Hill is a post-doctoral researcher working on modelling the spread of disease. He says:
“Whilst it is not possible to predict with certainty the future course of the pandemic, a second wave of infection remains a real risk. Concurrently relaxing multiple measures, including allowing more contact indoors, poses a serious chance of increased transmission and of the R number rising above one.
“It is important that we remain vigilant and continue to adhere to social distancing guidance since reducing the levels of infection in the population results in a lower risk of vulnerable people coming into contact with infected individuals.
"As part of efforts to contain the virus, a robust test and trace scheme would help break chains of transmission where outbreaks occur. To maximise the effectiveness of the current system, it is vital that those with COVID-like symptoms are tested quickly, with the shortest possible turnaround time from reporting symptoms, through to undergoing a test and receiving the result."
24 June 2020
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