A leading doctor has warned that the UK could have four waves of coronavirus in the months and potentially years ahead while there is not yet a vaccine.
The Government has indicated that the first wave of the virus is coming to an end after costing the country at least 44,000 lives.
But Shabi Ahmad, a consultant surgeon in urology in Birmingham fears the country will “have to learn to live with the virus” as he highlighted the terrible toll on the medical profession, reports Birmingham Live.
Mr Ahmad, who works at Sandwell Hospital in West Bromwich, said he doesn’t think Covid-19 is going away any time soon.
He said: “There will be a second wave, and a third wave and a fourth. This isn’t something that is going to go away.
“We just hope that this does not translate into serious conditions and include hospital admissions, intensive care admissions like we had in March.
“The virus is going to keep rotating through various ways and means.
“We just need to learn to protect ourselves.”
Heroes of the NHS, including doctors and nurses, have died from coronavirus, as have front line care workers – with delays to PPE a potential factor.
Mr Ahmad’s warning comes as thousands headed back to pubs yesterday on Super Saturday with packed streets in Soho prompting concerns of further waves, with the police federation saying it’s ‘crystal clear’ drunk people can’t socially distance.
Mr Ahmad, who treats cancer patients, said he understood the majority were from the BAME community, which has been disproportionately affected by the virus.
“What we do know is that of the 40-odd doctors who died, 38 were from the BAME community,” he said.
“And out of the 300-odd healthcare and social care workers who have died, I think 80 per cent were from BAME communities. That tells me there is a problem.
“Most of the people who have died, be it doctors, nurses or other healthcare workers, were in primary care rather than the hospital setting.
“We all know the primary care was the least protected group, with no protective equipment, not much guidance surrounding personal protective equipment.”
Asked why he believed the virus was more dangerous to the BAME community, he added. “It’s a very interesting and very difficult question. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer.
“One thing I can tell you is that most of these BAME people work in the frontline, in areas where they would have got the infection more than others, be it the acute medical ward, primary care, care homes, nursing homes.
“And of course they were not properly protected, they didn’t have the right stuff to protect them. And then they would be sitting ducks to the deadly virus.”
He cited figures showing dramatically fewer deaths among medics in the US and said: “So the only difference between these two places is that over there they’ve got better protection.”
The lockdown is gradually easing in England, with people able to go to the pub and other indoor entertainment venues as well as stay overnight in another household from Saturday (July 4).
People have been able to travel to destinations like beaches for a few weeks, and its seen huge crowds gathered there on hot days.
Mr Ahmad, President of Dow Alumni Association and Senior Executive member of Association of Pakistani Physicians in Europe, said: “There has been all this apprehension about all these marches and the heat which has taken thousands of people on the beaches.
“Suddenly people are scared about it. If you keep people at a safe distance we will be able to keep them safe.”
Mr Ahmad then commented on crowds of people flocking to the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham.
He said: “But if you have a crowd like the other day at the Bullring, that sort of activity is going to be harmful.”
The dedicated NHS consultant has seen the devastating effects of COVID-19 at first hand – having lost an ‘uncle’ to the virus on the day we spoke.
Mr Ahmad said: “He was ironically a doctor himself…. he had no chronic medical problems.
“He was a doctor like me. He was retired and the father of my best friend who himself is a consultant I’ve grown up with.
“The virus, it’s like a personal war. That’s the closest relation that I’ve lost to the virus today.
“I’ve had lots of very close colleagues (in the profession) who’ve been on ventilators and personally know of a lot of people who have died.
“Not this particular trust, but colleagues elsewhere. There’s various people I’ve worked with over time who’ve had a very close shave with COVID.”
All hospital trusts are now facing a backlog of operations and appointments and are now encouraging patients not to miss appointments through fear of COVID-19.
Mr Ahmad said: “One of the most important things is that people should not ignore their existing problems.
!There are people sitting with symptoms of cancer but they’re so afraid of going to the hospital now.
“They might not die or be affected by the COVID now, but they surely have major problems with their existing symptoms.
“That is my major concern at the moment, that people are ignoring their pre-existing problems and they could suffer because of that.”
He added: “The backlog, we’ve not even started to look into that. This is something that will evolve in the next couple of months as things reopen completely.
“I continued to do my endoscopy work throughout the pandemic and that was the only work going on in my department, for acute presentations of neurological cancers.
“I was seeing that the number of people I had, just half of them were turning up, in those days.
“Even now, with things improving, the turnaround rate is not that great and people are still a bit afraid of coming to the hospitals.
“I think that applies to all communities, however naturally with the BAME community suffering so much, the apprehension and anxiety is more in their rank-and-file.
“So they’re more afraid and are more mistrustful and some people don’t want to hear about coming to the hospital, they will suffer at home, but they won’t come to the hospital.
“The sad part is we are not doing enough to reassure them, the nation as a whole.”