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Speaking to TalkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, the Health Secretary refused to guarantee there will not be a second UK-wide lockdown should coronavirus cases spike again later this year. But asked if the Government was taking steps to ensure the UK was prepared for a second COVID wave, Matt Hancock promised PPE was being stockpiled to last for years. He said: “That’s exactly what we’re doing. If you think about it, PPE is currently being used right across the NHS and social care.
“The challenge last time was that suddenly people went from previous business as usual to people using PPE all the time.
“We’re now in the position of using PPE all the time.
“Winter is always harder for the NHS, it’s always harder for people’s health because it’s colder. That’s true COVID or no COVID.
“And so we are building these PPE stockpiles. I haven’t given you a date because we are building the stockpile that we need for the PPE, there’s no date attached to that.”
To which the radio host replied: “You know we’re going to hold you to this one, Secretary of State!”
But doctors have urged the Government to release clear plans to prevent a second coronavirus outbreak amid fears it could kill up to 120,000 people.
A report published on Tuesday warned this winter could see triple the amount of deaths than the first outbreak in a “reasonable worst-case scenario”.
This prediction did not factor in care home fatalities which have made up to a third of the near 45,000 deaths due to coronavirus so far in the UK.
The report set out 20 steps the UK Government must take in order to reduce the chance of a second deadly outbreak.
It included stocking up on PPE, vaccinating millions more UK residents against the flu and quickly improving contact tracing.
But the Royal College of GPs claimed medics have been left without clear guidance on how they should prepare for a second wave of COVID-19 infected patients.
In a statement the chair of the RCGP, Professor Martin Marshall, said the College needed reassurances immediately that staff and patients will be protected if there is a second outbreak.
He added: “The College has been advocating for comprehensive planning to ensure the UK is prepared for a potential second wave or local peaks of the COVID-19 virus.
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“We will do what is necessary, in the best interests of patient care, but we need to know what plans are and have the appropriate guidance and resources to swiftly respond to a second wave of the virus, mitigating its potential severity and helping to keep patients and their wider communities safe.”
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has backed the RCGP’s calls for clearer guidance.
She said: “There is simply no time to waste. I urge the Government to look closely at the recommendations made in the report and act without delay.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the Nightingale Hospitals will be kept on standby through the winter.
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, has also promised to deliver the “biggest flu vaccination programme in history” to block an influenza outbreak occurring at the same time as a second wave of coronavirus.
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