I was asked this by one of my patients last night.
Simple question, difficult to answer.
We are all seeing in the media that the number of infections is rising steadily, but overall numbers are much lower than earlier in the pandemic. They also seem to be geographically concentrated in the north west, north east and the midlands. Infections in London and Kent are still low, and there aren’t many suspected cases in the hospitals.
It seems obvious that as children return to school, parents will return to work and fatigue about social distancing sets in, numbers of infections will go up.
We seem to be entering an endemic phase – we’re going to have to learn to live with this, and I think life is going to change. It’s quite possible that “Christmas will be cancelled” and holidays abroad next year may well be disrupted.
What does this mean for Cardiology services? I think remote visits are here to stay, and there’s going to be a much greater focus on patient self monitoring. Already we’re seeing patients being asked to check their own blood pressure and weight. Self-recorded ECG’s are becoming indispensable in the treatment of patients with rhythm problems. In terms of procedures, we are having to be much more organised than before to ensure that elective wards are Covid free. This means patients needing to self isolate for 14 days before major procedures, and 3 days before minor procedures and Covid testing all patients 3 days beforehand.
The focus has to be on delivering safe services for those who need them, but clearly capacity is down because of the extra cleaning and social distancing required between patients.
I think we will see a second wave, but this isn’t going to be tsunami of the first wave, and we are in a much better place to cope with it second time round.