The Academy responds to the new COVID-19 restrictions announced yesterday [22 September 2020] to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President, Academy of Medical Sciences said:
“I very much welcome the Government taking action in response to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“One of the biggest challenges the Government faces now is how to bring the public with them. Our Winter report asked for an effective public health campaign to help the public play their part in stopping the spread of the virus. The announcements today must be backed up with clear, consistent and accessible messaging developed with the people and communities they are intended to reach.
“These public health messages must reach all parts of society, regardless of age, socio-economic background, class, ethnicity or language. The best way to do this is work hand in hand with different communities to co-produce effective messages and understand the best ways to share them. This is particularly important with black Asian and minority ethnic groups who have been disproportionally hit by this pandemic and with young people who are currently experiencing the biggest increase in infection rates – something that must be an urgent priority to address.”
Professor Dame Anne Johnson FMedSci is Vice President (International) at the Academy of Medical Sciences and Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at at University College London. She said:
“I am pleased to see the Government responding promptly to increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and that they are taking advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Chief Scientific Advisor and SAGE. The current increase in virus cases echoes the concerns we raised in our report on preparing for winter 2020, and they must be taken seriously. We recognise the difficulty in achieving a balance of limiting viral spread while enabling people to continue with their lives livelihoods and education. However, the next few weeks are critical in reversing the increase in the rate of spread and we need to collectively act now to prevent greater future impacts.
“Each one of us has a part to play and we must urge everyone to follow the new measures that have been announced yesterday (Tuesday 22 September). I was pleased that the Prime Minister provided more clarity on what the public can and can’t do, particularly continuing with social distancing and the new guidance on the use of face coverings and working at home. I wholeheartedly agree with Professor Chris Whitty when he said: "You cannot in an epidemic just take your own risk. Unfortunately, you’re taking a risk on behalf of everybody else. It’s important that we see this as something we have to do collectively."
“It is vital that anyone who feels ill with possible COVID-19 symptoms isolates until they know if they have the virus. This is one of the most important ways to stop the spread. To prevent this approach having a disproportionately negative impact on our day to day lives we need an accessible, robust and rapid test and trace system - the Government must continue to invest in making this work well for everyone.
“Alongside stopping community transmission, it is crucial that we make sure that our hospitals and care homes are in the best possible position to prevent spread of the virus. To address the NHS backlog and protect staff and patients, we must be sure that we are doing all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 in health care settings.”
Contact the Academy Press Office here.
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