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UK experts worry 'no strategy' for round two

By EARLE GALE | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-09 09:44

Some senior National Health Service managers and healthcare experts have said the United Kingdom is not ready for a feared second spike in novel coronavirus infections, something that becomes more likely as the lockdown eases.

A passenger wearing a face mask is seen at Manchester Airport, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Manchester, Britain, June 8, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Martin Marshall, the chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told The Observer newspaper: "I think the criticism that we can't see a strategy is a legitimate criticism. That isn't a criticism at all of thoughtful people trying to do their best, but it is a criticism of the political agenda."

Marshall and others are concerned that, after the UK allowed some students back to school on June 1, and with more schools and most shops reopening on June 15, interactions between people are increasing and so is the chance of new infections, and they want to know if the government is ready.

Marshall said the apparent lack of a plan is worrying.

He said: "Clinicians working on the ground find it tiresome and difficult to work in an environment where things are changing every day, and there's no sense of direction as to where we're heading."

Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added that, while the number of new infections is shrinking, the trend could reverse if the lockdown is eased too quickly.

"I think we absolutely don't want any more relaxation till we are confident that the test and trace system is working, both at national and local level," he said.

The Sunday Times, however, predicted that the government will continue to relax the UK lockdown because of its desperation to get the economy moving, something that could save 3 million jobs.

And some critics argue that a second spike may be unavoidable anyway, because people are starting to ignore the rules.

That perceived growth in a disregard for the rules was apparent on the weekend when tens of thousands of people took part in crowded "Black Lives Matter" protests in the UK cities of Cardiff, Leicester, London, Manchester, and Sheffield.

'Wrong thing to do'

Meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party's shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, was vocal on the prospect of the UK temporarily relaxing its Sunday trading laws, something The Times newspaper said is imminent as a way to increase shopping hours, so people can avoid crowds.

Nandy said allowing supermarkets to open all day on Sunday would be the "wrong thing to do".

And she added: "I'm not convinced this will help get the economy back on track.

"We've been applauding our frontline workers, and supermarket workers are among those. They are worried what this will mean in terms of time with their families."

Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reported that secondary school students would likely have their exams delayed again next summer. The paper said exam regulator Ofqual is mulling holding summer 2021's exams in July instead of May because students have missed so much studying time.

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