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Virus may cause epidemics long-term: UK Govt

World

The UK Government says COVID-19 is likely to circulate long-term and cause periodic epidemics, as it advises people to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces.

 

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The government has published a 51-page document entitled “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy”, followed by a series of sector-by-sector documents offering guidance to employers and workers.

The plan includes a staged undertaking to allow businesses to reopen, advice on avoiding public transport and wearing face coverings as well as a 14-day quarantine for most international arrivals.

“It is likely that COVID-19 will circulate in the human population long-term, possibly causing periodic epidemics,” the plan said.

“In the near future, large epidemic waves cannot be excluded without continuing some measures.”

“Our challenge now is to find a way forward that preserves our hard-won gains while easing the burden of lockdown,” Johnson told the British parliament on Monday.

“This is a supremely difficult balance.”

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said the government had been issuing conflicting guidance that did not answer the public’s practical questions about going back to work.

“What the country needs at this time is clarity and reassurance, but at the moment both are in pretty short supply,” he said.

Having refused for several weeks to give any indication of how it planned to start relaxing the lockdown, the government opted for a gradual release of information over 24 hours, starting with a solemn televised address by Johnson on Sunday.

But a wide range of critics said the details were nebulous and did not help people to know whether they should go back to work, how they would get there and how they could stay safe in the workplace.

Adding to the confusion, the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland made clear they did not share Johnson’s approach and rejected his new core message, “stay alert”, instead sticking to the previous “stay at home” slogan.

After weeks of declining to tell the British people to wear face coverings amid contradictory scientific advice on their usefulness, the government said they should be worn in enclosed spaces where distancing is impossible.

Security guards, taxi and bus drivers have higher virus death rates

Men in the lowest-skilled jobs have the highest rate of death involving COVID-19 among working-age people in England and Wales, according to data which also shows deaths among nurses and doctors are no higher than the average.

The data was published on Monday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday that manufacturing and construction workers should be encouraged to go back to their jobs, drawing concern from union groups.

Men in the lowest-skilled jobs suffered 21.4 coronavirus-related deaths per 100,000 males in the period up to April 20, more than double the average for working age males of just under 10 deaths per 100,000, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The average death rate for working age women was 5.2 per 100,000.

Male security guards had a death rate of more than four times the overall average for working-age people. Male chefs, taxi drivers, chauffeurs and bus and coach drivers also had higher death rates.

Male and female care workers and home carers – some of whom had raised concerns publicly about a lack of protective equipment – had significantly raised rates of 23.4 and 9.6 coronavirus -related deaths per 100,000 respectively, the data shows.

But healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, were not found to have higher rates of COVID-related deaths than people of the same age and sex in the general population.

The ONS said its data did not prove that higher death rates involving coronavirus were necessarily caused by differences in exposure to the virus through work.

It adjusted its data for age, but not for other factors such as ethnic group and place of residence.

-with AAP

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