Kate writes a bi-weekly column for the Burton Mail. This column was originally featured in the 22nd September print edition.
This week we have had an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty. Here in Burton and Uttoxeter we have witnessed worrying outbreaks of the virus but there has also been a significant rise in coronavirus cases right across the country and across all age groups. It is therefore very important that we all take personal responsibility for limiting transmission.
Currently cases appear to be doubling approximately every 7 days. No one wants to see another national lockdown, which could have devastating consequences, but without action being taken now it is easy to see how we could once again find ourselves back in the same situation we were in at the height of the pandemic. The Government Chief Scientific Adviser stressed that this is not a prediction but a warning of just how quickly the pandemic could take a hold again if the doubling time stays at seven days and we fail to take action. There is no evidence that the virus is now milder than it was in April and there have also been instances of people being re-infected because whilst the antibody effect provides some protection it also fades over time.
We all have a vital part to play in limiting the rate of transmission because, although for most people COVID-19 is a mild infection, for older and more vulnerable people the mortality rates are very significant. With increased numbers of cases will come increased hospitalisations and increased pressure once again on the NHS which could result in the NHS exerting most of its efforts in treating COVID-19 cases therefore potentially resulting in a reduction of treatment in areas such as early disease diagnosis and prevention – something that none of us would want to see.
As we head into the Autumn/Winter season which typically brings an increase in respiratory viruses, such as coughs and colds as well as flu, this update should act as a warning to all of us that we must keep following the guidance of washing our hands, wearing a facemask where required, and socially distancing. This virus is spread by droplets and surface contact so by reducing contact with others we reduce the risk of coming into contact with someone who is infectious and consequently the risk of passing the virus on to others creating a chain that will eventually reach those who are most vulnerable. It really is a case of taking personal responsibility, not only to protect yourself but to protect others around you.