Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement about the creation of a three tier alert system for England, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA chair of council said:
“Whilst the Prime Minister is absolutely right in saying that we cannot let the virus spread unchecked and that we need to have simple rules we can all understand and support, this three-tier lockdown system is not, in itself, the solution to halting the spread.
“We need to see a national prevention plan – effective national measures, supported by the wider public, to reduce infection rates and avoid the damaging effect of lockdown on local populations and businesses.
“Yet the first tier is simply the rules that already exist in England and it’s obvious from the spiralling numbers of cases and the way the rate of infection is increasing across the country, that this will not be enough. It makes no sense, therefore, to leave it as it is. The BMA has already recommended robust preventative measures for England – including reducing the Rule of 6 to a Rule of two, making the wearing of face masks mandatory in all working environments where physical distancing is not possible, and providing medical grade masks for those over 60 and in vulnerable groups. Without country-wide preventative measures, towns and cities in lockdown will simply slide from one tier to the next.
“On the second tier, High Risk, the Prime Minister said this would be reserved for areas ‘where infection rates are rising most rapidly and the NHS may come under pressure’. The NHS is already under crippling pressure and only this morning England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer said that the current infection rates had guaranteed more hospital admissions and deaths in the next three weeks.
“The Prime Minister has told the public at different times, that different measures would curb the infection rate and that local strategies would control outbreaks. It’s clear from today’s announcement that there is no clear strategic plan for prevention – these Tiers treat the symptoms, not the cause.
“The Government cannot hope to win back public faith and confidence with this piecemeal approach. Ministers must not miss this crucial opportunity to stop a cycle of failed interventions and reassure the public, patients and NHS staff alike that they have robust tactics in place to get this deadly virus under control.”