Doctors call for stronger coronavirus measures

The British Medical Association has warned that clearer additional coronavirus measures are needed to avoid communities suffering the paralysing and economic impact of local lockdowns.

The association warns that the public is in danger of losing faith in existing measures – demonstrated by infection rates spiralling out of control because at times the messaging has been inconsistent.

The BMA believes more robust, decisive and clear to follow rules alongside the introduction of a new three-tiered approach, could boost public confidence and lead to the rates reducing once again. It has put forward a series of recommendations which, if implemented without delay, could reduce the level of infection as well as supporting businesses and those who are in vulnerable groups.

The recommendations include: modifying the current ‘Rule of 6’ with the rule that only two (exclusive) households can meet (and those should not exceed 6 people) – ideally outdoors, rather than indoors; making the wearing of face masks mandatory in all offices and working environments, unless you are working alone; providing financial support to businesses, retail and hospitality settings to enable them to make premises Covid secure and provide clear rules on what ‘Covid secure’ means; providing medical grade masks, free of charge, to those who are over 60 or in a vulnerable group; and adding more functionality to the NHS Test and Trace app to give people more detailed information on infection rates in their area including actual figures of rates of infection and trends.

The BMA is also hugely concerned that, without new stringent measures, rapidly introduced, the NHS and its workforce, will very quickly be overwhelmed and the consequences for staff and patients alike will be disastrous.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “Simple effective rules and tighter restrictions are urgently needed to avoid communities suffering the paralysing impact of full local lockdowns and the impact that uncontrolled infections will have on our NHS.

“With admissions to hospitals for Covid climbing rapidly in parts of England, there is an opportunity for the government to bring in simple stronger restrictions alongside the introduction of its much trailed three-tiered approach. We know that with the right public behaviour and renewed public confidence, the infection can be brought under control, given that we had less than 500 new cases a day in mid-July.

“The infection has risen following rapid relaxation of measures and with the government letting down its guard – as recently as August, the government was encouraging people to travel, go to work and mix in restaurants and pubs. There was inconsistency in where and when to wear a face masks and how and when to mix socially.

“We have drawn on a range of expertise from within the BMA to publish a set of recommendations which we feel, if introduced very quickly, could have a positive effect. We are having to swallow a very bitter pill of the infection continuing to spread at a perilous rate. Stronger measures brought in now could be a far sweeter pill in the long run for far more people.”