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Save jobs and the NHS with swift action on coronavirus, urges ICU doctor

Former front-line care doctor Dominic Pimenta calls for early and short intervention to prevent a second Covid-19 wave from spiralling out of control

The UK government must act now to prevent a new “tsunami” of coronavirus cases and a repeat of the long months of lockdown which devastated the economy and damaged the NHS, according to a front-line intensive care doctor.

Dr Dominic Pimenta, who quit his job as a cardiologist in June in protest over Dominic Cummings’ lockdown-breaking car trips, said small but meaningful steps can limit the spread of the coronavirus while keeping people in their jobs and homes, a core objective of The Big Issue’s Ride Out the Recession Alliance.

“It’s a lot like a fire,” Pimenta told The Big Issue. “We all recognise the importance of stamping out a new fire as soon as possible. A small pan fire we can contain easily. A large burning kitchen is quite a different prospect. 

“An early and short intervention is much better for the economy and the NHS than a late and long one.”

The UK faces 50,000 new cases of coronavirus each day by mid-October at the current rate of infection, according to the UK chief science adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who called for fresh action in a briefing on Monday

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With the national job retention scheme due to end in October and the eviction ban lifted, the UK faces a spike in unemployment, homelessness and new coronavirus cases as the winter sets in. 

Acting now to limit the virus’ spread can protect both jobs and public health in the long term, agreed Dr Pimenta.

“If we are to prioritise keeping schools open as long as we can we then need to reduce all other vectors of infection as much as possible; restrict indoor interactions to just one other household, move restaurants and bar service outside or takeaway only, encourage as many as possible to return to work from home,” he said.

These measures should have been implemented “ideally, two weeks ago”, he added. New cases have been rising steadily since mid-August and passed 2,000 per day at the start of September.

The economic impact of the pandemic has pushed the UK into a recession for the first time in 11 years, and figures collected by the BBC found that employers proposed making more than 300,000 redundancies in forms submitted to the government over the summer.

The Big Issue is committed to helping protect jobs, working alongside RORA partners Shelter, Nationwide Foundation, Unilever and many more to come up with plans to keep people in work. We need your ideas too. Tell us your experiences, ideas and plans at rora@bigissue.com.

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