Hope for summer holidays but Britons should prepare for hard winter, Dr Susan Hopkins says

Hope for summer holidays but Britons should prepare for hard winter, Dr Susan Hopkins says

A leading government adviser has predicted Britons will all have a summer holiday this year but warned that the NHS must prepare for a possible “hard winter” ahead.

Dr Susan Hopkins told Andrew Marr that the UK could see “surges in flu” and other viruses because public health measures against Covid-19 potentially means less “population immunity”.

The Public Health England doctor went on to say that we will “all hopefully have our summer holidays”, but warned that the NHS must be ready for a “difficult autumn”.

“We have to prepare for a hard winter, not only with coronavirus, but we’ve had a year of almost no respiratory viruses of any other type and that means potentially that the population immunity to that is less,” she told the BBC.

“We could see surges in flu, we could see surges in other respiratory viruses and other respiratory pathogens.”

While she hopes for a “normal winter”, being “prepared from the NHS point of view and [with] contact tracing” is “really important”, Dr Hopkins stressed.

“My job is to advise the government and prepare for worst case scenarios,” she added.

But summer holidays are possible, she believes. “I think we will hopefully all have summer holidays,” Dr Hopkins said, but we must have “options available for the country in case things are not as satisfactory as we’d all like them to be”.

Boris Johnson’s “cautious but irreversible” roadmap out of lockdown extends to 21 June, the earliest date at which all legal limits on social contact can be removed.

But financial support schemes have been extended further. Rishi Sunak announced during his Budget speech that the furlough scheme will be in place until the end of September.

The £20 increase to weekly Universal Credit payments was extended by six months.

While 21 June has already been hailed as “freedom day” by some, “six months is a long time” in current circumstances, Dr Hopkins said, adding it’s “really difficult to predict what’s going to happen in the future”.

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