Winter illness warning


Matt Hancock (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images).
Matt Hancock (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images).

By Amit Roy

NOW is the time for the government to issue “cul­turally sensitive messages” warning the vulnerable British Asian community, where Covid-19 deaths have been disproportion­ately high, that the pan­demic might return with a vengeance this winter.

The mistake it made back in March was to as­sume that its national campaigns – “stay home protect the NHS save lives” and later “stay alert control the virus save lives” – would get through to all sections of society. It didn’t.

The health secretary Matt Hancock has already said: “It’s so important that everybody does their bit and follows social dis­tancing because it doesn’t matter how old you are, how affected you might be by this disease, you can pass the disease on to others. So don’t pass the disease on to your grandparents if you’re a young person.”

As we have seen, those who live in multi-genera­tional families or attend collective acts of worship or have underlying diabe­tes issues are at greater risk. The government needs to spell this out in a new campaign targeted at Asians.

Government data last week showed a surge with 2,988 cases in a sin­gle day, the highest since May 22. According to the BBC health editor Hugh Pym, “the more you test the more new cases you will find. But the jump of more than 1,000 in a day is a significant new spike.”

The Guardian report­ed: “More than 100 NHS trusts in England could be at or above full capaci­ty this winter if they faced a second wave of corona­virus admissions on top of the usual seasonal workload, with figures suggesting that dozens would have 10 per cent fewer beds than needed.”