UK Gears Towards Three-Week Lockdown Extension and other stories

Electronic Display Sign normally used for traffic management displays COVID19-related advices on an almost deserted Chichester Street in Belfast CIty Centre. Image: Gary Lynch. Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

The Government is expected to announce an extension to the lockdown later today.

The extension will last three weeks and is not likely to be relaxed before a vaccine is discovered.

Labour says it supports the extension but has urged the Prime Minister to publish details of an exit strategy, detailing how and when the lockdown will end.

Jonathon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, told the BBC this morning:

We expect the lockdown to continue, we would support that…But we also want more details from the government about what happens next.


Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, has said it will be some time before things return back to normal.

Speaking to Sky this morning, The Health Secretary said the number of deaths is still far too high for talks about easing lockdown restrictions to begin.

Leaked Letter Reveals Major Concerns over State of UK Social Care

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) petition Government to consider social care as equally important to NHS. Image: Screen grab from UK Government website.

A leaked letter, written by The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) to a senior official at The Department of Health and Social Care, describes the national handling around protective equipment as ‘shambolic’.

The letter, which was written over the weekend, raises fears about funding, tests and shielding schemes for vulnerable people.

It describes how vulnerable people have received contradictory advice from the Department of Communities, Local Government and the Department of Health which has led to ‘confusion and additional workload’ for front-line workers.

While the letter welcomes some of the guidance given by Whitehall, it calls for much better communication between the local and central government.

Adass is now urging the government to consider social care as equally important to the NHS through a recent petition:

We would like parliament to debate how to support social care during COVID-19 and beyond so that it automatically has the same access to operational and financial support.


Urgent Research into Impact of Corona on Mental Health Needed

A Survey from The Academy of Medical Sciences shows how anxiety and isolation are negatively impacting the public.

Survey analysts describe how: ‘Loneliness was raised repeatedly and concerns about feeling trapped…Many responses suggested a need for strategies to help individuals cope with isolation.’

Psychologists and psychiatrists are calling for urgent research into the impact of the virus on mental health.

Experts are warning that mental health support must be tailored to specific groups, like children and key workers.

It is believed the pandemic could have long-term impacts on mental health, and that early research could help prepare us for a potentially challenging future.

Professor Ed Bullmore, head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge has said:

Our key message is that Covid is likely to have major impacts on mental health now and into the future and we need to start thinking about that immediately.

Coronavirus: 9 in 10 dying have pre-existing health problem.

Logo for ONS COVID-19 data. Image: Screen grab from ONS government website.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that more than 9 in 10 people dying with coronavirus have an underlying health condition.

The ONS studied nearly 4,000 deaths in England and Wales where coronavirus was listed on the death certificate, revealing that in 91% of cases the individual had other health issues.

The most common health problem was heart disease, followed by dementia and respiratory illness.

The ONS have also revealed that men are twice as likely to die with coronavirus compared with women, and risk of death increases with age.

As well as this, they offer vital statistics to the UK Government about how people are responding to, and feeling about, the current situation, including anxieties, fears and coping strategies.

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