Phil Day By Superintendent Pharmacist Published:

On the 21st and 22nd of September, two announcements about the coronavirus pandemic were made by the UK Government. The briefings gave an update on how the Government’s plan to tackle the pandemic has been developing, and to give us insight into what the coming months may look like. Here we’re going to summarise the information from the briefing and highlight what you can do to help minimise further risks.

21st September briefing: the rate of infection is on the rise 

The briefing was held by Professor Chris Whitty, the Government’s Chief Medical Advisor, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, who confirmed that further measures must be taken to stop the spread of the virus. 

Here’s the key information from their briefing

  • It’s estimated that 70,000 people in the UK are currently infected with COVID-19.
  • The rate of infection is also on the rise, with approximately 6,000 people catching it in the UK every day.  
  • The rate of infection appears to be doubling every 7 days, which puts us on a course for 50,000 daily cases by mid-October if nothing changes.
  • Although it was initially thought to be led by younger people, there are now high levels of transmission in all age groups.
  • The rate of transmission appears to be speeding up, and although there are geographical hotspots, the rise is all over the UK.
  • There’s no evidence to suggest that the virus circulating now is milder than the one that was circulating in April.

22nd September briefing: new restrictions

In this briefing, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a further series of restrictions in England. He said we’re now at a “perilous turning point” and it’s important to act.

Here’s a summary of the new restrictions that were announced:

  • Office workers have again been advised to work from home, if they can.
  • The penalties for gathering in groups larger than 6 and not wearing a mask will increase to £200 on the first offence.
  • From Wednesday 23rd September, face coverings must be worn by taxi drivers and their passengers.
  • From Thursday 24th September, all bars, restaurants and pubs are restricted to table service only, and must close by 10pm; customers and diners must wear face coverings except when they are seated. Takeaways will be allowed to continue operating. Masks must be worn by retail staff and their customers.
  • From Monday 28th September, attendance at weddings and civil partnerships will be limited to a maximum of 15 people in groups of 6. Funerals can still take place with up to 30 people in attendance.
  • From Monday 28th September, indoor adult sports can only be played in groups of less than 6. Plans for the return of spectators for sports games from 1st October have also been postponed.

Why this is important

We’ve already seen that admissions to hospitals as a result of the infection have been increasing steadily since September. If no action is taken, admissions are predicted to double every day, which could be disastrous as we head into autumn and winter, and the onset of the flu season. As we’re now entering a period of potentially high risk, the Prime Minister has warned that these new restrictions could be in place for up to 6 months.

Therefore we all need to do our bit in an effort to slow down the spread of infection to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed and to save lives. 

What you can do help

Here’s what you can do to help limit the risks of the coronavirus pandemic:

  1. Maintain a distance from other people outside your household (2 metres, or 1 metre with a facemask if that’s not possible), wash your hands regularly, and wear a facemask when in an enclosed space (when shopping, for example).
  2. Self-isolate if you are displaying any Covid-19 symptoms, notify anyone you’ve been in contact with, and get yourself booked in for a test.
  3. Don’t meet in groups of more than 6 people (with some exceptions) and break any unnecessary links between households, in work or social environments. 
  4. Follow any lockdown rules which are specific to your area.

If you have a health condition, you can also minimise risk by avoiding unnecessary trips to get your medication by registering with Pharmacy2U. We can help manage your medicine so you can stay safe and protected by ordering your NHS prescriptions online and having the medication delivered to your door, for free. Learn more about our free NHS prescription delivery service