Epidemiologist warns "urgent action" needed to avoid a disastrous winter wave

14 July 2020, 18:06

By Seán Hickey

This professor warned that if the UK doesn't prepare for a second wave of coronavirus, we are in for a worse death toll during the winter.

Azra Ghani is an epidemiologist and professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London. She is also a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences who released a report detailing a "worst case scenario" that could see 120,000 excess deaths in the UK in winter if we don't prepare now.

Eddie Mair summed up the report, stating that "we're in for a bad winter" if preparations aren't made. Professor Ghani told him that "we're all very much aware that the NHS comes under pressure" and because the possibility of coronavirus coming back during the winter is a real one, we must prepare sufficiently.

She called on the government to take "urgent action now to ensure all our systems are in place" for the winter and the work of her team was an attempt to "highlight how urgent this issue is."

According to the report, 120,000 excess deaths could come this winter
According to the report, 120,000 excess deaths could come this winter. Picture: PA

"Our worst case scenario is clearly going to put a lot of stress on the NHS and on healthcare in general, and yet they are avoidable" she said, noting how simply we can avoid a crisis.

In terms of how the general public can help, Professor Ghani said it is "important from a public perspective to understand it has not gone away" and to remain vigilant.

She said that if everyone works together, "we can try to get through this winter without experiencing the type of epidemic we've experienced earlier this year."

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