As we enter the winter period, COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising to above 52,000 daily cases this week, and research from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of people infected with the virus is at its highest point since January.
If Government does not take stronger action to prevent the spread of the virus we risk seeing COVID-19 death rates rising beyond predicted levels and an NHS and social care system overwhelmed by demand on services.
COVID-19 remains a significant threat to public health in the UK, and that it is vital we continue our efforts to tackle the virus to protect our health and our economy, and prevent a further widening of the health inequalities that we have seen exacerbated by the pandemic.
These messages now hold even greater urgency as we see deaths from COVID-19 consistently rising to their highest point since March. Unless we strengthen public health measures such as wearing face masks, avoiding travel, and isolating when unwell, we risk seeing these rates continue to rise exponentially over the winter months.
Most vitally, Government must now re-double efforts to support vaccine uptake amongst those yet to receive their first and second dose. This approach must include better engagement with those communities where uptake has been low, and an offer of financial support for those prohibited by childcare, travel, and lost earnings costs.
Government must also act to bolster the vaccination programme for 12 – 15 year olds as we are now seeing reports of schools facing severe staffing pressures, and the latest figures showing that over 200,000 children were not attending class due to COVID-19.
If urgent action is not taken to strengthen public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we risk entering the winter months with spiralling infection rates and an NHS in crisis.
Faculty of Public Health
Local Government Association
Royal Society for Public Health
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
The British Medical Association