This week, our Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will set out a comprehensive plan on how our nation will continue to suppress the coronavirus, while re-starting the economy, getting our children back to school and making travel to work and the workplace safer. Thanks to our massive collective effort to shield the NHS, we’ve avoided an uncontrollable and catastrophic epidemic where the reasonable worst-case scenario was a frightening 500,000 deaths.
We are now past the peak of the virus and on a downward slope, but until a vaccine is fully developed and rolled out, we know that some form of social distancing will have to continue. I welcome that the Government will be setting out a comprehensive plan about the way forward, although we need to recognise that timings will depend on how things develop.
Boris Johnson and the Government have been very clear that they will always be guided by the science, as they seek to build the maximum political consensus across all political parties. Our town and country has come together in a way few of us have seen in our lifetimes, to protect the NHS, save lives, and to look out for and support each other.
The Government have stated there will be five key tests that must be satisfied before the comprehensive plan for phase two happens. Firstly, the NHS’ ability to cope must be protected, so we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK. Secondly, there needs to be a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rates from coronavirus, to be absolutely sure we have moved beyond the peak.
Thirdly, we need to have reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board. Fourthly, we need to be confident that the range of operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand, with supply able to meet future demand. Finally, we need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
6th May 2020