• Thursday, June 30, 2022


Covid-19: “Difficult” times ahead, warns academic

On Monday evening, the UK government announced a nationwide lockdown

By: Lauren Codling


A PANDEMIC EXPERT has warned of “testing and difficult times” ahead, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread across the world.

According to the latest statistics on Tuesday (24), confirmed coronavirus cases exceeded 395,600 across 194 countries and territories with more than 17,200 deaths linked to the virus.

The virus has spread rapidly across Europe and the United States in recent weeks, following the initial outbreak in China.

Dr Bharat Pankhania is a senior consultant in Communicable Disease Control and a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter. The academic told Eastern Eye he anticipated a “very difficult time” for the next three months as the government worked to eradicate the virus.

“I expect the number of cases to go up and I expect the number of people admitted to hospital to increase,” he said on Monday (23). “This will be a very testing time for the next three months for the country.”

Dr Pankhania admitted that experts remained uncertain of the times ahead, but “we can only take a step at a time”. “I believe that the next three months may be sad times because people will be infected, people will be ill and there will be loved ones who may not make it,” he said. “This is an extremely emotional and stressful period for everyone.”

Dr Bharat Pankhania

On Monday evening, the government announced a nationwide lockdown. The latest measures mean that people could face fines of up to £1,000 if they leave their homes for unnecessary reasons.

Dr Pankhania agreed that keeping people out of circulation was the best measure to minimise the risk of infection. Human beings are reservoirs of the Covid-19 infection, he said, so they should stay away
from others to avoid contracting and spreading the disease.

“We need to recognise that the one way to get infected is by humans only and we need to have minimal contact,” the academic said, adding, “you should assume that (a person) is infected and behave accordingly.”

Although he acknowledged the government had taken good measures  to stop the infection from spreading, Dr Pankhania said he would have liked to have seen continued testing of the disease. “We seem to have given up testing a bit early,” he said.

Asked about what lessons experts have learned from previous pandemics, Dr Pankhania stressed the importance of taking advice across a section of professionals rather than focusing on one viewpoint.

“There are people like myself who have been on the cold face of finding cases and contacts,” Dr Pankhania, who has contributed to the Ebola and SARS surveillance and control methodologies, said. “People should take the views of more than one sector that knows how to handle these outbreaks.”

Eastern Eye

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