Friday 27 March 2020

Contingency planning for Coronavirus: article

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have never experienced this type of situation before. Government restrictions, national lock-down, police outside ready to stop you if you go is like something out of a dystopian movie. All the worry about vulnerable family members and friends, elderly neighbours, the state of the NHS, just adds to the general feeling of disquiet. 

Last year, my colleague Dr Julia Meaton and I supervised MSc research by Helen-Marie Kruger about the preparedness of local authorities for dealing with a flu pandemic. Of course, since then, the coronavirus situation has developed, and suddenly, our research takes on a new morbid significance. We modeled what would happen with a 50% clinical attack rate and a 1% and 2.5% death rate. Currently, the clinical attack rate of COVID-19 is thought to be about 60-80% and the mortality rate hovers around 1%.

We conducted interviews with employees of a Local Authority, including a senior emergency planning manager, a mortuary manager, a registrar and a bereavement services manager, and we modeled death rates using the UK Government Cabinet Office’s National Planning Assumptions Assessment Tool. In our paper, available here, we discuss how many excess deaths there would be over  15 week period, and as the pandemic reaches its peak, and the strain that would put on the funeral, crematoria and bereavement services. Our findings suggest that although business continuity plans are in place, it is highly likely that these services will be overwhelmed, even in the case of the lower mortality rate.

If you have questions about the paper or our research, please contact me or Dr Meaton.

If you can, please stay indoors to stop the spread of the virus and help our NHS save lives.
Thank you to all the fantastic NHS staff working so hard at this difficult time. 

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