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Shropshire hospitals boss: 'This is the time when things could be most risky'

Shrewsbury | In-depth | Published:

Medical director for The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, Dr Arne Rose, warns that while coronavirus restrictions are being eased, people must 'continue to take precautions and remain sensible'.

Dr Arne Rose

We are entering a new phase of easing the lockdown, which has dominated our lives for almost 100 days.

It seems incredible it was back in March that the restrictions on where we could go and what we could do came into effect, but even though it has been a long, tough road, most of us have adapted well and made incredible sacrifices for the greater good.

Now we are beginning to see those sacrifices bring rewards.

But this is the time when things could be the most risky, so we need to continue to take precautions and remain sensible.

It was announced this week that the 2.2 million people who have been self-isolating in England during the pandemic will no longer need to shield from August 1. From July 6, they will be able to meet up outdoors, in a group, with up to five others and form ‘support bubbles’ with other households. Of course, this advice differs if you are living in Mid Wales, where current guidance runs until at least August 16.

Football is back on our televisions, with the odd spectacle of empty grounds and yet the sound of crowds – and we are also set to see the reopening of cinemas, museums, art galleries and, yes, pubs, from July 4.

While the Health Secretary has said the virus is “in retreat” we must be clear this does not mean it has gone away. The Government has made it quite clear the further easing of restrictions can, and will, be reversed if there is a fresh surge in infections.

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None of us want to return to tighter restrictions at a time when we are getting used to the ‘new normal’. We have seen surges in the USA, and we do not want that here. That is why it is so important we continue to follow all the guidance and continue to practice social distancing, restricting our contact with others as much as we can and, importantly, continue to wash our hands regularly and thoroughly.

The search for treatments for coronavirus continues. As you may have read, our own Research & Innovation and Critical Care teams were involved in a clinical trial, run by Oxford University, into the steroid dexamethasone. Patients being treated in the Intensive Therapy Units (ITU) and on wards at our hospitals were recruited into the trial. The drug has been shown to cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. For those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth. This has been described as a “major breakthrough” in the treatment of coronavirus. Well done to our teams and thank you to the patients who agreed to be a part of this trial.

Now, men who have had coronavirus are being urged to donate plasma from their blood to be used in further research. Studies suggest men are more likely to become seriously ill and therefore produce higher levels of antibodies than women, which means their plasma could be more useful for saving lives. Not everyone can donate plasma – the first step, if you are interested, is to fill out a form on the NHS Blood and Transplant website.

Finally, one of the things that has been making the lockdown more bearable has been good weather. That seems to have been in short supply recently, but this week the Met Office issued a level two heat warning, which comes into effect today.

Hot weather carries with it its own risks, so please be take care of yourselves and make sure you have plenty to drink.

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