Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Fourth wave fears: NHS expected to be under pressure due to ‘triple whammy’ during winter

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The Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) released a report signalling the need for preparations to avoid up to 60,000 flu deaths this winter. Research showed many factors will contribute to the increasing pressure on the NHS.

The healthcare system has been overwhelmed by the pandemic, but by wintertime experts expect flu and respiratory syncytial virus to add to the heavy workload.

“What is clear is the triple whammy of these infections, on top of the backlog of routine care, is going to potentially disrupt services in the coming weeks and put severe strain on the NHS and staff,” Prof Azra Ghani FMedSci, a member of the expert advisory group for the Academy’s report, said during a virtual briefing.

On Monday, most restrictions will be lifted, causing medical experts to anticipate a high increase in Covid cases in the country.

Many viruses harder to catch with social distancing and mask wearing will be more transmissible around the country.

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This could cause a spike in flu deaths – and between 15,000 and 60,000 could die from the flu, the report says.

In comparison, in a typical year pre-Covid, around 10,000 to 30,000 die from the virus.

The AMS report also warned that there could be between a 25 to 65 percent increase in the respiratory syncytial virus in children younger than five.

This could cause 40,000 children to be hospitalised, as opposed to 20,000 pre-pandemic.

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“There is a risk that children’s wards and paediatric intensive care units may be overwhelmed,” AMS warned.

The rise of flu and respiratory syncytial virus cases could overlap with a Covid fourth wave which could overwhelm the NHS.

This warning comes after an announcement from a Downing Street source that the Prime Minister may make Covid passports mandatory to combat the autumn wave.

“In autumn vaccine passports could become an important tool that will allow us to keep things open,” a Downing Street source told the Times.

The proposed plans would mean that people would have to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test before entering.

Another Government source supported the idea of enforcing vaccination passports.

“If we can show real benefits of getting vaccinated in terms of everyday life then it could be quite a useful tool,” they told the Times.

From Monday face masks will no longer be mandatory, however, venues and transports can enforce their own rules.

There will be no legal limits on group gatherings and nightclubs will be allowed to open.

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