Is the governments proposed pandemic roadmap doomed to failure?

Covid 19 infection rates have been falling across the UK as a result of the national lockdown. Thanks to the NHS the vaccination programme is making good progress and so far appears to be reaching their expected targets.

The national lockdown has helped to stop the spread of covid-19. This has resulted in a reduction in the number of people admitted to hospital with serious Covid 19 related illnesses.

This should not be treated lightly as the threat of the pandemic and once the lockdown conditions are lifted there are still major unresolved challenges which could result in the R rate and mortality levels rising.

Many local and regional public health teams don’t have the tools available to tackle outbreaks despite large numbers of the public believing so.

The Covid 19 virus has the potential to spread very quickly which could result in the virus once again being out of control.

This is very worrying because we are now seeing quicker spreading mutations of the Covid 19 virus emerging which is a trend that is most likely to continue once lockdown conditions are once again lifted.

The government has released its roadmap, but for it to succeed, the government needs to fix the already existing problems with the way that infection data is recorded so that the spread of covid-19 can be accurately recorded.

Therefore it is extremely worrying that the results of Imperial College London’s REACT study and the Office for National Statistic’s infection survey are still not matching with the data that the Test and Trace. Records.

For public health teams to be able to take the necessary actions to prevent infection rates rising, the problems surrounding this needs to be dealt with.

Public health teams cannot be expected to react appropriately when the data that they receive isn’t accurate. Without this accurate data its very difficult to see where the localised outbreaks are and to respond accurately.

One of the downfalls of the Test and Trace system is that it can only provide infection data for people that come forward to be tested, therefore the system can only trace the contacts of those who have imputed their data to contact tracing teams.

Many people aren’t coming forward for testing as a result of the insufficient provision of economic support from the government if they are required to isolate as a result of their test and trace data. This then expands health inequalities between those that can afford to stay off work than those that can’t.

Public health teams are also facing problems in accessing the data that is generated by the Test and Trace system mainly as a result of the system being technically insufficient to provide the needed data and the information that does arrive is too slow to do so.

Despite the governments new Roadmap system it can’t be be successful unless there is improved data access for Public Health Teams for them to act upon.

Improved early warning systems would also help to alert teams to spikes in their local infection rates before they rise out of control. This would also help to identify new mutations of the virus.

For the governments new roadmap system to be successful it’s very important to have an effective early warning system to alert Public Health Teams about rises in local and national infection rates.

The NHS and public and health professionals across the country have worked extremely hard trying to tackle the spread of covid-19. Their combined efforts have lead the country to a place where we can see a way out of the current restrictions that we have faced for so long.

It’s important to remember that our exit from lockdown must be time appropriate and access to reliable data must be improved upon. without this the governments planned Roadmap will fail our hope to return to life as normal.

To avoid a fourth lockdown will requires much more than just a roadmap. It requires an effective early warning system both locally and nationally to rises in infection rates. This also depends upon effective and early action from the government in response to keep the virus under control.

Throughout this pandemic the government has been extremely slow to act upon data given thus enabling the virus to run out of control leading to mutations of the virus. We have seen the government be far to slow to respond to infection rates given which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.

We need to prevent future spikes and if possible avoid another lockdown.

To achieve this the government needs to start acting quickly and more decisively, based their actions upon active monitoring of good quality data.

Source Maggie Rae president of the UK Faculty of Public Health.

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