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LETTER: More information needed to judge coronavirus risk

Readers' letters | Published:

A reader calls for more information to judge the risk of coronavirus.

A man wears a face mask

I am delighted that I am, as one of the over 70s, allowed to make my own assessment of the risk of Covid-19 to me and my family but as I consider which aspects of my life can be resumed, with appropriate social distancing I do need some accurate information on which to base my judgment. There are two main aspects which would reassure me.

Firstly, the Shropshire Star reported that regrettably a large proportion of Covid-19 deaths were among care home residents. With most of the local population having been in lockdown, the care homes are becoming the main source of transmission of the virus back into the community. I would like to know if a strict testing regime is in place for both staff and residents for their own benefit but also to try and confine the virus to places where it is known to be actively spreading. Weekly testing for all would be needed. Care home staff whose family members are returning to work or school would be a priority here.

Secondly, we are told that we can only request a test if we have symptoms. This does nothing to assess the level of virus in the community and I have seen no specifically local data. Waiting for numbers of deaths and counting backwards is unhelpful. National and international studies repeatedly find that symptomless carriers are present in considerable numbers and they are unwittingly spreading the virus. Without random tests on symptom free samples of the population we cannot know the level of likely transmission. Germany has been very proactive in testing apparently healthy individuals and we need to copy their example.

I do hope that local public health officials can address these issues before this devious virus affects even more of us. It is no good waiting for top down government direction, this needs tight local management. Until I have the data I cannot make realistic judgments of risk, so I shall continue to walk the paths of the Ercall alone, and rely on my family and the excellent local traders who deliver my supplies and keep me out of populated areas.

Penny Wysome, Wellington

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