Public Health England has said the NHS should brace for a potential surge in patients with respiratory viruses during winter. Dr Hopkins, who is the COVID-19 strategic response director to Public Health England, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show such a rise could be due the reduced numbers of other respiratory illnesses during the year.
She said: “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.”
The expert 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.”
She explained she believed “we will all have our summer holidays” but had to look at the ”worst-case scenarios”.
She said: “We have to make sure that we’re prepared, and that we’re better prepared for this autumn than we have been previously.”
The warning comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed a return to “normality”, as school children in England prepare to return to classes today.
Pupils from all school years are expected back in class, with attendance mandatory.
Secondary schools have been told that they can stagger the return of school years over the first week in order to ensure coronavirus tests are carried out.