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Second lockdown could be 'unavoidable' if there is second coronavirus wave, says health minister

Health Minister Robin Swann has said another lockdown scenario could be unavoidable if there is a second wave of Covid-19 later in the year - but only if the virus is not contained now

Speaking at Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing, Mr Swann also commented on the the strategic framework for rebuilding health and social care and warned those attacking Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) staff to stop.

When asked if the anticipated second wave does hit Northern Ireland, would there be another way of battling the virus other than a lockdown, Mr Swann replied that it depends where the extent of the virus is.

“If we tread carefully and if we get out of the lockdown slow enough and managed enough to make sure that the virus is being managed and being restricted in its spread, if there is a second wave, it may not be as critical as the one we seen at the start,” he continued.

“If we get to a point where our health service is being threatened where we asses that we don’t have the number of ICU beds in the current system to manage what will be a potential second wave, then our only option is to get back into a second lockdown.”

Meanwhile, the plans to rebuild the healthcare system include an ongoing emphasis on high priority cancer services, and other urgent conditions.

The health minister praised the work of the health and social care trusts in how they have coped in recent months with the added pressure of Covid-19.

“The development of these first phase plans, however, have not prevented trusts from already resuming services,” he continued.

“From talking to trusts I have been hugely impressed with how they have collectively stepped up in the fight against this virus and how also their ingenuity in identifying measures to repair the damage that it has done.”

It was revealed on Monday evening that assaults on NIAS staff soared to 44 incidents last month after dropping significantly during the March and April lockdown.

Mr Swann condemned the attacks and said the figures were “truly appalling”.

“To those engaging in these attacks or covering up for them, I say this: ‘Stop it and stop it now because you are bringing shame on this society’,” he stated.

“I am constantly inspired by the ambulance crews and the other frontline staff across the health and social care system because I truly believe we can rebuild that system better than it was before.

“We owe it to our staff and we owe it our community.”

Belfast Telegraph