Health leaders have urged for a review on the UK’s preparedness for a second wave of coronavirus infections.
A letter published in the British Medical Journal has warned UK ministers that urgent action is needed to ensure that there is no further loss of life if a second wave of infections were to arise.
On Tuesday 23 June, the Prime Minister announced further changes to lockdown rules in England to allow for more flexibility of movement, social distancing and rules on carrying out business. With news of the two-metre rule in England now ‘one-metre plus’ and pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers reopening on 4 July, the Department of Health has said that it would stay alert by keeping up to date with the latest scientific advice.
Still, talks of a second wave will likely dominate conversations across the UK for the next couple of weeks. However, it is not just the UK Government that need to stay alert as organisations will also need to factor in the possibility that a sudden rise in infection rates could threaten any plans they have to get their businesses back to some form of normality – especially for organisations who have had to remain shut through the duration of the lockdown.
To help tackle the likelihood of this, organisations are being asked by the Government to:
- avoid face to face seating arrangements in the office by changing office layouts where applicable
- reduce the number of employees in enclosed spaces
- improve ventilation or ensure ventilation systems are working as they should
- set up protective screens and provide face coverings – eg face masks or shields
- put in place rules for managing social spaces – eg one person in a small kitchen at a time (or more, depending on the size of said kitchen space)
- provide hand sanitisers and surface cleaning wipes
- promote regular hand washing
- allow staff to work from home if it is possible for them to do so, or change shift patterns to reduce the number of staff on duty at any given time
Some organisations may not see the risk of a second wave in the UK at this time, but it is important to note that there have been reports of localised coronavirus outbreaks in several countries around the world including Germany and Wales. A meat processing plant in Wales has found that almost 160 of its employees have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, which has brought into question the working conditions at the plant and production has since been halted.
This incident could be a clear indicator as to what could happen if cases spike once again across the UK due to improper procedures being followed by organisations.