The UK Health Authority chief has urged poor workers to stay away from work instead of “grinning and enduring illness” – saying, “We should be worried about the flu”.
Dr. Jenny Harries said, however, that another lockdown this winter appears “very unlikely” – but cannot be completely ruled out.
It comes as a nasty cold, dubbed the “worst lurgy ever”, that is spreading across the UK.
When asked if the public could have any confidence that there would be no lockdown this winter, the chief executive of the UK health authority told Times Radio: “You can never say 100%.
“But I would say that although the Delta variant dominates, we know our vaccines are effective and I think that is very unlikely.
“You will know that there is a government plan B that is being held in check so that all planning is finalized.
“But when we look internationally across the world, actually wherever we see new variants, Delta predominates. We’re still keeping an eye on a few of them.
“I think it looks positive, but I would never say 100%.”
Workers should avoid the traditional “grin and sickness” approach and instead stay out of the office if they feel uncomfortable this winter, said Dr. Jenny Harries.
She told Times Radio, “I think especially as we approach flu season, for example, when people in the UK traditionally grin and carry their infectious disease and then go to work and spread it, I hope that if we get through the winter, people who have symptoms will generally recognize this and stay away and be supported in doing so. “
Regarding the fact that people no longer work from home, she said that if everyone returned to work immediately, there would likely be an increase in cases.
She said, “If everyone returned to work immediately without careful consideration, we would likely see more cases in a short period of time, depending on whether they were wearing face coverings and taking appropriate precautions.
“But of course most people are now protected, so that even people who have been vaccinated twice become infected, don’t get seriously ill and don’t die the way we saw earlier.”
When asked how concerned the public should be about the flu this winter, she told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, “We should be concerned about the flu every winter. I think people still don’t know that it can be a fatal disease. Recent studies suggest that around 25% of us don’t really understand this. On average, around 11,000 people have died from flu-related illnesses in the past five years.
“But I think the most important thing about this winter is that we will probably see the flu circulating with Covid for the first time in real numbers.
“So the risks of catching both of them together remain. And if you do, then early evidence suggests that having the two of you together makes you twice as likely to die than just from Covid alone.
“I think an uncertain winter is ahead – this is not a prediction, it is an uncertain trait – but we know the flu cases were lower last year, so immunity and strain types are a little more uncertain.”
It follows warnings from England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Van-Tam that the flu is a “significant public health problem” this winter.
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