Medical chief warns government is not doing enough to stop second wave of coronavirus in Britain

The council chair of the British Medical Association has slammed Boris Johnson over "systemic" faili

The council chair of the British Medical Association has slammed Boris Johnson over "systemic" failings in his government's coronavirus policies; Evening Standard/Jeremy Selwyn/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A medical chief has warned that Downing Street is not doing enough to stop a second wave of the coronavirus hitting Britain.

The British Medical Association's council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, told MPs on Wednesday that Number 10's laxed messaging on face coverings and lack of a 'systematic approach' to public health policies were leading to a weekly rise in infections.

In particular, Dr Nagpaul singled out the government's mixed messaging on face coverings and social distancing as a major concern.

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'At the moment we're not doing everything we should in trying to contain the virus,' he told All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus.

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'If I look even at something as simple as our messages on social distancing: we're told that social distancing is still two metres, or one metre plus.

'Do you think any member of the public understands what one metre plus means? What does the plus mean? Many don't really understand this because it's not clear and they're not social distancing.'

He ravaged the government's policy on face coverings: 'If you want to suppress a virus you don't just make an announcement and then leave people with free will whether to wear them... you then follow that up with a very systematic approach to make sure that happens.

'What I mean by suppressing is you take an attitude that says: we want to do absolutely everything to make sure the infection doesn't spread. That needs a much more robust approach.

'The point is that I'm not sure that sense of clear, single-minded determination to do everything we can is being done and that's what I mean by suppressing: to really take the attitude that yes, we can resume normal living – you can go out, you can do things, but make sure that we have very clear messages about what is expected of both the public and workers to stop the spread.

He warned that there were 'too many examples of potential spread' for people leaving their homes to shopping centres of public places.

'There are measures that can be taken and at the moment I think I see too many examples of potential spread, just walking out into the High Street and peering through shop windows. If a hair dresser wears a visor without a mask, that's not going to suppress the virus. Has that message gone to all employers as to what needs to be done to stop the spread of the virus?'

In order to stem the tide of rising case numbers, Dr Nagpaul explained, a definitive strategy was immediately needed.

'If you look at the figures at the moment, the last ONS figures from last Friday, the weekly figures, the infection rate has increased.

'We're now seeing about 2,700 new cases a day compared to 2,500 the week before. And so I think now is the time we must be much more robust and rigorous about how we mitigate the spread.'

Dr Nagpaul, a practising GP with 30 years' experience and a CBE recipient, is a strong critic of the Tories' approach to healthcare.

He once claimed ministers had intentionally underfunded the NHS in order to accelerate a private sector takeover.

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