While the news that a new vaccine against Covid-19 is in development signals a light at the end of the tunnel, the risk of contracting Covid and passing it to our loved ones will remain high for some time.
With infections still rising and many West Midlands locations still in the top 50 most heavily infected areas in the country, we can expect increased pressure on hospitals and more deaths from Covid in the weeks to come.
It will be many months before enough vaccinations can be administered to make a return to life as we once knew it possible.
This time around, it is crucial that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the first post-lockdown period, when the Government relaxed restrictions on social mixing too hastily, creating the conditions for the virus to spread again.
Understandably, people are eager to visit friends and family after a long month apart, but given that mixing within private households indoors is a big factor in driving the spread of the virus, relaxing restrictions in this area could see a jump in the infection rate. As painful as this might seem, the BMA believes that the Government must replace the ‘rule of six’ with a ‘rule of two’, so that no more than two households can meet indoors.
This rule should remain in place for as long as it takes to deliver a sustained reduction in infections.
Doctors are also calling for clearer and properly-enforced rules on mask use and social distancing, and support for business and local authorities to create Covid-secure environments. Whether or not the Government takes the necessary action, we should all take this advice to heart and avoid taking any risks.
We all deserve a healthy and prosperous 2021 – and this remains a real possibility if we hold our resolve and take the smart decisions that will defeat this virus.
Dr Stephen Millar, Chair of West Midlands regional council, British Medical Association
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