The government must find a way to ensure that the elderly and vulnerable do not endure an autumn and winter of total isolation from their loved ones
The ominous portents arrive daily. A survey of British doctors has found that almost nine in 10 expect a second peak of coronavirus within the next six months. Data suggests the rate of viral transmission nationally is again lurching out of control; new lockdown restrictions have been imposed in the West Midlands and the Welsh health minister has warned that a national lockdown may be only weeks away. The leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, is self-isolating after a member of his household displayed Covid symptoms.
It is unsurprising, then, that the drumbeat of anxiety is audible and growing louder. But for those who either live in or visit care institutions, anguish is probably a more appropriate word. Evidence that Covid-19 is spreading through residential homes again comes as many were beginning at last to ease restrictions on visits. Infections appear to be mainly affecting care home staff, many of whom are asymptomatic. They are being detected in greater numbers thanks partly to a functioning testing regime that, very belatedly, is now in place. In a sense this is good news. But, given the rise in cases, some councils have already advised providers to close their doors again to all visits.