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Alan Bacon: Second wave

November 4, 2020 12:13 PM
By Alan Bacon

Alan Bacon

The second wave of Covid-19 is with us. All through the spring and summer, there was speculation about whether there would be a second wave in the winter, but here it is already in mid-Autumn.

At the time of writing, the government is resisting a short, complete lockdown, although this is what its scientific advisers recommended as long ago as 21 September. It has instead tried 'the rule of six', 10 o'clock curfews and dividing England into three tiers, with different regulations applying in each.

In Buckinghamshire, we are fortunate to be in the lowest tier, but the number of cases here is rising fast and this will inevitably feed through into hospital admissions and deaths. It's clear that despite everything which is being done, it is not enough to halt the advance of the virus.

There is no panacea available so we have to work with what we have got and make it work better. The obvious place to start with that is testing and tracing. I've written about this before, but we don't seem to move forward. According to Sage, the government's scientific advisers, the way the system currently operates "is having a marginal impact on transmission." A marginal impact!

Not enough people are being tested, they don't get the results quickly enough, not enough contacts are being traced, and not enough contacts are following instructions to isolate.

Testing and tracing are not fit for purpose but the system could be fixed. It was set up as a very centralised scheme using private companies. Business consultants Deloitte got a contract to run drive-in and walk-in testing, while Serco, which used to have the contract to empty our bins locally, got a contract to organise the tracing.

There has been talk for months about doing it all more locally and this is slowing starting to happen in some places. Where local public health officers and environmental health officers work together and use their local knowledge, they have much greater success in tracking down contacts than staff working far away in distant call centres. Let's make this happen here.

This article is by Alan Bacon, Shadow Portfolio Holder for Health and Adult Social Care, on Buckinghamshire Council. He is councillor for Asheridge Vale and Lowndes and also sits on Chesham Town Council for Lowndes. The article is taken from Your Chesham, and the full magazine is available at https://yourchesham.co.uk/