Posted: 07.04.20 at 11:58 by Nick Hudson
SOME countries are talking up concrete plans to “reopen for business” after coronavirus lockdowns as Atherstone and the West Midlands is braced for the worst of what may ultimately be only the first wave of the pandemic.
The town’s main hospital – the George Eliot in Nuneaton – tweeted less than 48 hours ago that it expected a “peak in the next few days”.
The area’s only A & E facility until you reach Coventry one way, or Birmingham the other, pledged: “We are as ready as we can be. Great team, keep supporting one another.”
The hospital has confirmed 23 deaths in total since its first announcement 27 days ago.
All are hoping that the threatened increase in emergency admissions for Covid-19 patients will not reach critical proportions until the new 2,000-bed Nightingale hospital being built at the NEC – in days, rather than months or years – is safely onstream this Sunday, according to West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.
The ominous signs of a peak within the next week have been chronicled for some time.
On March 25 Government adviser Professor Neil Ferguson, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and a member of the Science Advisory Group for Emergencies, said "if the current measures work as we would expect them then we will see intensive care demand peak in approximately two to three weeks and then decline thereafter".
Four days ago Health Secretary Matt Hancock pointedly remarked the more people follow social distancing rules, the “sooner the peak will be”.
Atherstone’s neighbours Birmingham – heading a table of UK upper tier local authorities that no one wants to lead – has seen its confirmed cases triple in 10 days to 1,287. Warwick’s positive-testing total has gone the same way – with a threefold rise from 113 to 361 in the same period. Staffordshire stands at 570 cases.
The Midlands 7,385 recorded cases make up one seventh of the UK total of 51,608. Britain’s death toll is 5,413.
In Britain we need to look no further than our gravely-ill Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s transfer into intensive care for reasons why we need to retain lockdown and keep the faith of #StayHomeSaveLives.
But with fatalities starting to fall consistently in Europe, countries are beginning to talk of a reawakening from the Covid-19 nightmare.
Both Austria and Denmark plan to lift restrictions in stages.
In Austria, small shops are scheduled for an April 14 opening, with larger stores to follow at the beginning of May.
Restaurants, hotels and schools may be able to reopen in mid-May – though that decision will be looked at later this month. Strict rules about masks, social distancing and the number of people allowed into a store at any one time will remain in place, but public events may resume in July.
In Denmark, the plan is for nursery and primary schools to reopen on April 15, while firms will resume business gradually.
Belgium, France, Spain are examining how they will loosen some of the restrictions on public life.
In the UK the coronavirus lockdown could end by June as experts fear businesses won't survive much past that point.
Treasury officials warned if the lockdown went beyond June the Government would not be able to stop normally successful businesses going under.
Former British PM Tony Blair has said that he is “terrified” by the damage caused to the economy “every week this lockdown continues”. The longer businesses are shut the more it will not only hinder the economy but also the Government’s ability to operate its health-care system effectively, he warned.
But European leaders are cautious of restart, since some countries that have sought to return to normal, such as Singapore and Japan, have seen waves of new infections.
And there are worries coronavirus may be able to remain in the body and “reactivate” later after 51 recovered patients tested positive again.
The patients, from the South Korean city of Daegu, had all spent time in quarantine while recovering from the virus, but were diagnosed again within days of being released.
White House Covid-19 expert Dr Anthony Fauci hit the most pessimistic of notes, believing the world will not go back to normal until a vaccine is ready.
Dr Fauci said it “might not ever happen” without a vaccine.
“You're absolutely right, if you want to get to pre-coronavirus, that might not ever happen in that sense that the threat is there,” he said
He said that for the world to be able to “function as a society,” there would need to be a workable vaccine available.
But Dr Fauci admitted that even with the vaccine things may never return back to “normal.”
The confirmed cases across the globe stand at 1.3 million with nigh on 75,000 deaths.
A few weeks ago Prof Ferguson also talked about widespread testing being needed to help move the country from suppression measures and lockdown into something the country can manage longer-term.
Nub News’s test-per-million table shows the UK is lagging behind – lying in 49th place in the world rankings in a league topped by the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Gibraltar. The bottom ten are predominantly African countries or ones with a particularly warm climate – the virus is thought to be killed off at temperatures around 81F.
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