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Nation should prepare for ‘hard winter’, warns Public Health England official

Helen William, PA
·1-min read

The nation should prepare itself for a “hard winter” with the threat of Covid-19 and a flu surge still a possibility, a Public Health England official has said.

The NHS will have to be ready for a potential rise in respiratory viruses as people wait to discover if there is a strong level of immunity in the population, according to Dr Susan Hopkins, who advises the Government on its Covid policy.

Dr Hopkins, who is Covid-19 strategic response director to Public Health England, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think 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 the population immunity to that is less, and so we could see surges in flu.

“We could surges in other respiratory viruses and other respiratory pathogens.”

Dr Hopkins added: “So it’s really important that we’re prepared from the NHS point of view, from public health and contact tracing, that we have everything ready to prepare for a difficult autumn, and we hope that it won’t occur and there will be a normal winter for all of us.”

Dr Susan Hopkins
Dr Susan Hopkins during a media briefing in Downing Street (PA)

Dr Hopkins said she believed “we will all have our summer holidays” but her job is to advise the Government and to prepare for “worst-case scenarios”.

She told the programme: “We have to make sure that we’re prepared, and that we’re better prepared for this autumn than we have been previously.”