Covid hotspots are 'volcanoes threatening to explode' as June 21 fears mount


Rising coronavirus cases are volcanoes which could explode and spread disease across the country, a top doctor warned today.

Experts are locked in talks as fears mount that planned relaxations on June 21, dubbed Freedom Day, could be derailed by a surge in infections fuelled by the Indian variant.

Dr Lisa Spencer, honorary secretary of the British Thoracic Society, told the BBC: “There are a few hotspots around the UK. These are areas where the variant first identified in India seem to be causing a majority of the infections, spreading quickly.

“These areas of the country represent mini-Covid volcanoes, that’s the problem.

“If we don’t handle these volcanoes carefully they could explode and send a massive gas plume across much more of the UK.

“So obviously we are trying to control those volcanoes and stop them overheating, surround them if you like with a ring of water which consists of the protective ring of vaccination, Covid restrictions, face masks, social distancing and of course Test and Trace to plug any leaks of that water, running out and letting the volcano overheat.

“Although we are coping now in the NHS, if you let those areas overheat we could still end up with a serious problems in the NHS.”

Royal College of Emergency Medicine vice president Dr Adrian Boyle, warned that Britain faces a “perfect storm of hospitals just not having enough capacity”.

Easing restrictions could “be the sort of thing that actually tips some of these smaller hospitals really into a very disastrous situation”, he told Times Radio.

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He warned infection control measures were hampering hospitals’ attempts to return to normal.

“We’re now at the stage where we’re not able in many hospitals to go back to our pre-Covid configurations because the way we’ve designed our hospitals in the UK historically we have a lot of open bays.



People queueing for vaccines in Twickenham yesterday - one of many 'surge' areas
People queueing for vaccines in Twickenham yesterday – one of many ‘surge’ areas

“We don’t have many side rooms and it’s really risky to put people with infectious diseases that can spread and when you’ve got something as transmissible as Covid,” he said.

“It would be just desperately unsafe and the wrong thing to do to put people next to one another.”

British Medical Association council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul urged the Government to “act with maximum caution when considering whether to go ahead with lifting restrictions on June 21”.

“We cannot afford to repeat past mistakes, which would result in greater levels of serious illness and loss of lives, including adding pressures to our overstretched NHS,” he said.

“The Government must hold off making a final decision on whether lockdown is fully lifted on June 21 until latest data can be scientifically considered – the Prime Minister had pledged he would be guided by ‘data not dates’, and it’s vital that he now honours this commitment.



People enjoy sunny Cleethorpes beach on May Bank Holiday Monday yesterday
People enjoy sunny Cleethorpes beach on May Bank Holiday Monday yesterday

“We are at a pivotal moment in battling against the virus in the UK, with the June 21 date signifying an end to all legal restrictions and allowing normal social mixing of people.

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“Yet since the roadmap was announced, we have seen the emergence of a highly-transmissible new variant and significant escalation of cases – and in the last week a reversal of a downward trend into seeing increases in hospital admissions and deaths.

“At the same time, we know the second vaccine doses are critical to controlling the spread of the new variant.

“A premature ending of all legal restrictions which then resulted in a surge of infections would undermine our health service’s efforts to tackle the biggest level of backlog of care it has ever faced.

“It would also add further demands on staff who are exhausted, both mentally and physically.”



Hospots like Bolton, pictured, are under the spotlight
Hospots like Bolton, pictured, are under the spotlight

Tory minister Paul Scully refused to say if he thinks the June 21 lockdown easing will happen as planned.

He told LBC radio: “We do just need to be careful. We need to err on the side of caution. No decisions have been made – we’ll only do that based on the latest and most accurate data.”

He added: “We’re not being overwhelmed at the moment but we’ve got to make sure we’re looking forward to see what happens in the next few weeks and months, in terms of that modelling, based on the data.

“Because what we do know is when case numbers go up, hospitalisations to date have also gone up.

“But, the vaccination progress is still continuing, going great guns with 63million vaccinations, and that is what is going to help us win this race.”

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