Possibility of further waves of COVID-19 says Coventry health official

Despite reports of the West Midlands being worst hit by coronavirus cases, Coventry is mirroring the national average, says one local health official.

Windows with Stay Safe poster

Coventry’s leading figure for public health has spoken out on the next steps for the city in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, as the Government reports the UK is “past the peak” of the virus outbreak.

Liz Gaulton, director of public health at Coventry City Council, issued the advice during Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s #PolicyHour session, where she also praised the region’s businesses for supporting their local communities via volunteering and manufacturing public protection equipment.

Ms Gaulton praised the way that the community has responded to this unprecedented situation as being “truly inspirational”.

“I believe we could be in lockdown for some time, but if businesses are given the green light to return to work, the question every business owner needs to ask themselves is this: can I maintain social distancing between my staff and customers?”, she said.

Ms Gaulton highlighted that despite reports of the West Midlands being one of the worst regions for coronavirus cases, Coventry is in fact mirroring the national average with 176 people testing positive for every 100,000 people.

“We would expect numbers to continue decreasing over the coming days and weeks as long as people continue to follow the national guidance”, she said.

The possibility of further waves of the virus widely impacting the country if lockdown measures are lifted too quickly have been raised as concerns, with Ms Gaulton saying she recognised the “real possibility that we could see a smaller second or third wave”.

“[We] really need to be treating this virus as if it is here to stay until we have widely-available vaccine that can combat it”, she said.

With the trial of the Government’s new contact tracing app getting underway on the Isle of Man this week, such measures that were used at the start of the virus outbreak, but became unsustainable as cases grew, are expected to come back into affect in the coming weeks.

Ms Gaulton said she expects to see contact tracing “tracing ramped up over the coming weeks” as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases decline.

“This will see people contacted when they have come into contact with a carrier of the virus, which will see them having to self-isolate – this will inevitably have some impact on workforces, and is another scenario for businesses to consider”, Ms Gaulton explained.

Further information on the UK’s exit strategy from lockdown measures is expected to be announced on Sunday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.