Covid-19 Second-Wave Safety
Will there be a second wave? There are very few experts that are willing to make a firm prediction. One of the most significant issues is how we're measuring the prevalence of COVID-19 – There isn't a single perfect statistic available. In fact, there are many official data-sources that seem to conflict.
According to government statistics, some 581 people tested positive after a PCR test across the UK in the last week of July. Britain has never managed to eradicate the virus altogether, so discussions about the new “wave” might be misleading. The rolling average number of positive tests has risen slightly from around 550 a day to about 700 in the last three weeks, and even though the number of new confirmed cases has fallen since April, it has never fallen to zero.
Since the UK government began lifting pandemic lockdown restrictions, there have been warnings that going too fast would allow COVID-19 to start spreading again. There have been reports about parts of the country seeing an increase in the “R” number rise above the crucial threshold of 1, which would mean case numbers start spreading exponentially again. The “R” number (the basic reproduction number) represents the average number of people who become infected by someone carrying the virus. When the number falls below 1, the illness can be expected to slowly disappear.
Other data has suggested that the R number in the south-west of England may be as high as 1.1, with the overall number for England rising to between 0.8 and 1, compared to being between 0.8 and 0.9 the week before.
“The long-term decline to zero cases of COVID-19 will always see bumps in their graphs within the downward trend.” Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton
The reality is more complex than that. What’s important is that we keep a cool head and acknowledge that it may not be a disaster, as long as we can maintain the rate of COVID-19 transmissions low. Especially when we start to head off on some well-deserved holidays.
Travelling in and out of Europe
You’ll have seen in the news that other European countries have seen sharper rises in new cases. There have been substantial increases in France, Germany and a considerable increase in Spain, where cases almost trebled in July. So it’s not surprising that the conversation has moved on to what measures the government should be introducing to reduce the numbers of infected cases from overseas.
Scientists from the London School of Tropical Medicine suggest that a quarantine of just eight days, with a test on day seven, could be almost as effective at detecting infections as isolating people for 14 days. Of course, data from tests are not likely to be completely accurate, no testing strategy has picked up every case. But it is a good start, and we can help you with your PCR tests if you require one.
So what other measures should be taken to ensure that people are getting the support they need during this second wave of public uncertainty? The potential benefits of telemedicine are easy to appreciate during regular times; in this time of global pandemic, we’ve seen that they are priceless – so don’t travel without us in your armoury of support options.
When you’re away you might find a heightened sense of worry that you or your family have been exposed to the virus, or if you feel sick when you’re enjoying your well-deserved break, and you want to speak to a clinician back in the UK, you’ll be able to get an appointment on the same day.
Speaking to one of our qualified clinicians when you arrive back in the U.K. if you feel unwell and can’t quite put your finger on what it might be, is just as important as taking a test. You might find it’s not COVID-19 related (Jet-lag. Too much sun! A dodgy last night meal.) and removing that uncertainty and lowering anxiety levels can have considerable benefits to your recovery.
Telemedicine allows for quick contact and maintains continuity of care, especially for people who want to build an established relationship with a clinician or practise when they’re travelling, and when they return.
What is now more critical than ever, is that you’ve got a back-up plan during this time of uncertainty. Don’t get complacent now that lockdown measures are easing. We’d still encourage people to adhere to the existing rules, even when travelling away for summer breaks. Our own models at Vala are predicting that a second wave may yet still occur and returning to pre-COVID-19 behaviour is still far away. Registering with Vala is free and also commitment-free. You’ll be able to travel away and return home knowing that you always have quick, easy access to an English speaking doctor wherever you are.
Register today as part of your travel planning.