Bringing back Covid measures won’t ‘boost immunity or break the cycle’

As the health service suffers from pressures such as coronavirus, flu, waiting lists and strikes, many health advisers are calling for the return of Covid-type measures. Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), last week urged adults to stay home if they are sick and wear a mask if they “have to go outside.”

The UKHSA also said children who are not feeling well should stay at home until they feel better.

The advice was backed by Transportation Secretary Mark Harper, who said it would be “very sensible” for people to wear a mask if they have covid or the flu.

Ministers are also known to have prepared last resort plans to advise Britons to wear masks on public transport, work from home and practice social distancing in a bid to mitigate the effects of a health system collapse.

Some public health experts have called for restrictions similar to those put in place during the pandemic to ease the strain on the collapsing healthcare system.

Professor Sam Wilson, a virologist at the University of Glasgow, said “taking the usual precautions will help limit the spread of covid.”

He explained: “Where possible, taking voluntary measures to reduce transmission — reducing contact, wearing high-quality masks in crowded spaces, and isolating if you have symptoms — will help reduce the burden on the NHS.”

However, other experts believe that measures such as the requirement to wear masks could be the thin end of the wedge.

They say any return to Covid measures should be avoided, arguing that they have contributed to the particularly severe winter crisis the NHS is currently facing.

Professor David Livermore of the University of East Anglia believed quarantine meant that people were not exposed to the viruses they normally encountered and were therefore more susceptible to contracting them.

He said: “Isolation measures mean that people have not been exposed to these viruses in the usual way, and as a result, their immunity has weakened.

“When people start circulating again, they become more susceptible to infection. This has increased the pressure on our health and emergency services.

“By persuading people to work from home and social distancing again, we are just saving the same problems for the future. We must break this cycle.

“Lockdowns and masks also contributed to increased fear of the coronavirus, which meant people were less likely to seek medical attention for problems. This was exacerbated by people being told not to use the NHS except in emergencies, as we are seeing again now. As a result, many people have not received quality health care for two years and are now waiting for treatment, many of whom have advanced disease. As a result of these things, the NHS is now very fluctuating. We cannot and must not make the same mistakes again.”

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Oxford University Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, said: “Calls for the return of masks are just a smokescreen. The most it can do is make the situation worse by giving people a false sense of security. These measures are a distraction from broader issues – there is no evidence that masks slow the spread of the virus in society.

“There are no quick fixes and no easy fixes.”

And Prof Ellen Townsend, a psychology expert at the University of Nottingham, said: “This is the thin end of the wedge, and the danger mask guidance will be the first step to reintroducing more of the measures we’ve seen before, like slicing salami.” you keep slicing and slicing until you get the measurements you want. This shouldn’t happen. Wearing a mask and thinking that it will protect people if you are sick can be dangerous.”

Professor Robert Dingwall, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said: “The NHS has experienced a crisis every winter for at least a decade, but this year the lockdown measures have created the conditions for the NHS to weather a harsher winter. than usual. First, it meant people were postponing treatment for other illnesses like cancer because the NHS was isolating patients who needed early diagnosis and treatment. It also upset the normal balance of respiratory infections—people weren’t exposed, their immune systems were weakened. and as a result, the accumulation of more people with various infections creates an additional burden on the healthcare system.”

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