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Health unions warn of impending crisis as expert predicts large Covid-19 wave in autumn

HEALTH unions warned of impending crisis today after an expert predicted that a large wave of Covid-19 in the autumn could see 1,000 people admitted to hospital each day.

Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London said that current case rates are sobering as we head into September, when social mixing will increase as schools return.

But he added that it is unlikely that any surge in hospital admissions will lead to the levels of deaths seen earlier this year, thanks to the vaccination programme.

He said a surge in cases will not be stopped through lockdowns but instead population immunity.

His comments came after rules were eased so that fully vaccinated adults will no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Prof Ferguson said that the changes to self-isolation rules could lead to a small increase in cases if people do not get tested when asked to do so.

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said that the pandemic is far from over, despite the government’s “wishful thinking and overoptimistic assessments.

“We have to remain vigilant and alert to new variants and waves of Covid-19 that could materialise over the autumn and winter,” he said.

“This means the systems we have created over the last 18 months relating to [protective equipment], testing and the successful vaccination programme to support the NHS must be continued and refined.

“Mask-wearing in public places and on the transport systems should be made mandatory.”

And GMB national secretary Rehana Azam warned that Britain “can’t be caught on the back foot again.

She said: “Unless the UK government start to proactively plan for another wave in the autumn, we could see thousands of hospital admissions, with overworked NHS staff left to pick up the pieces once again.

“All the underlying problems caused by a decade of cuts to the NHS have been exposed by Covid-19: an understaffing crisis, spiralling waiting lists, and a total lack of value for the heroic key workers left struggling on the front line.

“And to top it all off, the government has given an insulting pay offer that our members are voting on. They’ve had enough and frankly deserve so much better.”

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