Express & Star comment: Tough winter to ride out

Amid the tragic coronavirus landscape, we can now see the emergence of political battle lines being drawn on the ground.

Glasgow University students queue at a pop up test centre at the Murano Street Student Village in Glasgow.
Glasgow University students queue at a pop up test centre at the Murano Street Student Village in Glasgow.

After the seeming advances over the summer, Britain is once more a nation in retreat, facing and resilient and resurgent enemy, and with the available weapons to fight back all involving some difficult choices and some painful costs.

And now we are facing a winter campaign, when in addition to Covid-19 we will be assailed by all the usual suspects, ailments which surge during the colder weather such as flu, bringing associated extra pressures on the National Health Service.

When it comes to national health, coronavirus is of course not by any means the only kid on the block, but it is the one which has attracted all the attention this year. This has had an impact on responses to other life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, where patients have had the anxiety of delays in beginning treatment.

Putting figures on those who have died of something other than Covid, but nevertheless as a consequence of Covid, will probably be something we will only know for sure in retrospect. However we already have some indications, with the British Heart Foundation saying there has been a concerning rise in the number of under-65s dying from heart problems, and putting a figure on it – 800 excess deaths.

The charity says maintaining cardiac services during a second peak of the pandemic should be a priority.

So a lot is at stake as the countdown to a bleak winter continues apace. Lives are at risk, and so are livelihoods. The NHS will go into this critical period under strength, as it has unfilled vacancies, which will mean those on the stretched front line will know they will be having to shoulder a massive burden.

On a more positive note, much has been learned about how to treat patients, and while there is no guarantee that an effective vaccine will be found, every day takes us a step closer towards that so far elusive goal.

There has been much debate this week about the merits of tiered regional responses, lockdowns, and a "circuit breaker."

Tough decisions. And a tough winter to ride out. But there will be a spring. One day.

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