Health expert warns social distancing is 'vital' in coronavirus fight amid fears of second wave

Health expert warns social distancing is 'vital' in coronavirus fight amid fears of second wave

Health expert warns social distancing is 'vital' in coronavirus fight amid fears of second wave

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A senior public health official has urged Brits to stick to social distancing rules amid hot weather to help keep a possible second wave of Covid-19 at bay.

Fears have grown of a coronavirus resurgence after images emerged on social media appearing to show people flouting social distancing rules in several UK pubs and bars as temperatures soared over the weekend.

Dr Meera Chand, incident director at Public Health England, said: “Now more than ever it is vital that people continue to follow government advice on social distancing, wearing face coverings and practising good hand hygiene, in order to keep down the number of cases across England.”

The Government reminded Brits on Monday that “everybody needs to continue the social distancing guidance,” although new restrictions on socialising have only been placed in certain parts of the country that have seen localised flare-ups.

Social distancing guidelines in England say that people must keep two metres from others where possible, or one metre apart with “mitigations” such as face masks and more frequent hand washing.

Dr Chand’s comments come as a world health expert warned that London is at a “critical” time in its fight against coronavirus.

Dr David Nabarro, European coronavirus envoy for the World Health Organisation, told the Standard that risk of a surge in Covid-19 infections in the capital was now “extremely serious” and urged Londoners to carry on taking restrictions seriously.

New figures show the number of confirmed new cases and infection rate going up slightly in 22 of 33 London boroughs.

Dr Nabarro added: “It really is a critical time now for us to be treating this virus with the upmost respect.

“I’m not somebody who wants us to continue with lockdown, I want us not to have to continue with working from home, we need to be able as a society to be able to go to work, and also frankly to socialise.

“So the whole approach I’m taking is one of saying ‘let’s come back to a normal working life but remember that it’s not normal as we knew it eight months ago, this is a new reality of living with the constant threat of this virus… it’s establishing a new way of behaviour that is compatible with holding the virus at bay.”

Business minister Nadhim Zadhawi did not rule out a local London lockdown in a BBC Breakfast appearance on Monday, while mayor Sadiq Khan slammed the Government for not including City Hall in a planning exercise for a lockdown inside the M25.

People in Leicester city centre (PA)

Meanwhile Sage member Professor Graham Medley said pubs could be ordered to shut again to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission and allow schools to reopen.

When asked if the Prime Minister agreed with this, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “Our approach is a localised one where you would assess the situation on the ground and take whatever steps were required to slow the spread of the virus.

“More broadly we are committed to supporting the hospitality industry which has had a very tough time.”

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said images showing the apparent lack of social distancing at packed pubs “made me want to cry”.

She warned a cluster of new cases in Aberdeen is “exactly what we feared when we reopened hospitality”.

Also on Monday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation warned there “might never be” a “silver bullet” treatment for the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered a media briefing on Monday during which he said: “We learn every day about this virus and I’m pleased that the world has made progress in identifying treatments that can help people with the most serious forms of Covid-19 recover.”.

He went on: “A number of vaccines are now in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent people from infection.

“However, there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.

“For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control.

“Testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts. Do it all.”

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