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Express & Star comment: This could only be round one

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Britain has been knocked flat for months by coronavirus, but is now groggily getting up off the canvas.

Could this just be the end of the first round?

The easing of the lockdown is an enormous relief for those imprisoned in their own homes, and the businesses which have had to put economic life on hold.

Yet there are plenty of warnings that this could only be round one. Coronavirus has not been beaten. While Britain starts to recover, Covid-19 could simply be taking a breather before looking to probe our defences and levels of alertness again.

This is the fear – that there will be a second wave and we will end up back where we started, resulting in thousands more lives lost.

The government has balanced the risks, and has decided that the virus has retreated sufficiently for the self imposed economic blockade to be lifted, and that future outbreaks will be treated with a firefighting approach, to detect them, isolate them, and stamp them out.

This is fraught with dangers. Health leaders are warning of a real risk of a second wave and are calling for an urgent review to ensure the country is prepared to counter it.

The overriding fact here is that there will be no excuse for bad decisions the second time around.

One of the lessons we have learned is that the lockdown came late and treatments were not as good as they perhaps could have been because we were learning as we went along.

Now, with the benefit of hindsight, ministers should know the importance of acting decisively at the first signs of a comeback. To return to the firefighting analogy, if the whole house sets ablaze once again, it will mean a return to lockdown and a devastating double hit on the economy.

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A profound psychological hit as well as at a time when people are hoping they can see light at the end of the tunnel, that would lead to despair and disillusion.

There is no way at present to conquer coronavirus, but the more time we can buy for the researchers to find ways to exploit its weaknesses, the better.

We all know what is at stake. So the responsibility lies not just with the government, but with individuals, to ensure there is no going back.

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