Health care workers usually struggle in winter because some infectious diseases spread easily like influenza and conditions such as stroke, heart attack and asthma become worse in colder temperatures. This year due to the pandemic the health facilities are already facing a greater patient load and experts warn that the second wave of coronavirus may arrive in winter that could lead to 120,000 deaths in the UK.
In winter people spend most of their time indoors and in spaces with poor ventilation, these are the exact conditions that are favorable for coronavirus to spread easily. Furthermore, when winter comes it brings with it an annual onslaught of flu and cold viruses with symptoms of stuffy or runny nose, chesty cough, and sore throat which are similar to the symptoms of covid19. So, the government will find it extremely hard to track and trace coronavirus.
The flu seasons in the northern hemisphere begin as early as October and stays till at least April, they had mild flu last year but this year it could get worse. Plus, the pandemic has already stretched health care in many parts of the world and the frontline workers are already exhausted due to a staggering number of patients. Countries in the northern hemisphere include Russia, the United States, China, India, and Canada among many other countries.
The number of coronavirus related deaths in hospitals in the UK could be as high as 120,000 between September 2020 and June 2021, suggested by the Academy of Medical Sciences in the United Kingdom. This prediction of deaths is more than double the covid19 related deaths the UK has faced so far which is 45000. This number doesn’t include the deaths at care homes which make 30% of deaths in the UK.
Professor Stephen Holgate CBE, the clinical professor of Immunopharmacology at British Medical Research Council (MRC) and honorary consultant physician at the University of Southampton and also the chair of the report, said that people need to do everything they can to stay healthy this winter and that people who are most vulnerable should be given a priority. He believes that things are looking better right now and this has given an opportunity to prepare for winter.
If people continue to act in a way that this virus is not a threat to them any longer than the R number, which is the average number of people one person with the virus can infect, could increase from 0.7 currently to 1.7 by September says the scientists in the report, which was commissioned by Patrick Vallance, UK government’s chief scientific officer. This could lead to a second wave of the coronavirus which would peak in January and February of 2021.
The team of scientists considered the known impact of coronavirus on health care resources, at a time where flu and other seasonal infections already make the health services stretched. Deaths in the UK in any year rise in the winter due to the effects of seasonal viruses and cold weather. People prefer to stay indoors and keep windows closed during winter which provides ideal conditions for the coronavirus to spread.
The worst-case scenario could mean extremely cold weather and increased seasonal infections, which could result in a second wave of the coronavirus, the best the government can do is to act now and prepare for the winter.