We have experienced an Easter weekend like no other in peacetime. Whereas last year there were complaints during the bank holiday weekends that heavy traffic made it difficult for visitors and residents to get into or out of Folkestone, this year the roads, like the beaches and parks, are quiet. We have now endured three weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown, and we are not yet at the expected peak for contamination from the virus. The Government’s scientific advisors believe this will come next week, and that by early May we should see the numbers fall decisively. Other countries in Europe which went into lockdown earlier are now starting to make plans to ease the restrictions. In Italy and Spain some businesses have been allowed to re-open and more people are able to return to work. On Monday evening, President Macron of France announced that the lockdown will remain in place in his country until 11 May 2020, and then the restrictions should start to be eased. The UK Government will benefit from the experience of understanding the impact of the decisions made in other countries, that needed to impose restrictions earlier but will then be able to lift them sooner. However, we should expect that it could be another month before we start to see a change in the guidance to people in this country.
Whilst the impact of these restrictions has been profound, and not least for the many local businesses that have had to close as a direct consequence of them, they have helped to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our NHS has done a magnificent job in responding to the crisis, and I know from recent conference call meetings I have had with local healthcare leaders, that they are well prepared for the peak levels of demand for treatment that will be caused by the virus. We can also expect to see the opening soon of new hot site treatment facilities in our area, to help our local GPs better manage the demands of the coronavirus and speed up access to care and support for those that need it.
I was delighted to see that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made sufficient progress in his treatment for the coronavirus that was discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Like so many people, I was moved to hear this statement of thanks for the NHS staff whose excellent care saved his life. Boris Johnson’s experience underlines why increasing the number of ventilators and oxygen treatment equipment is so important to combatting this virus. I know that our local hospitals have been able to increase their capacity for treatment in response to the virus, and the new NHS Nightingale hospitals, in particular the newly opened hospital at the ExCel centre in the London docklands, have further helped to support our ability to treat victims of coronavirus.
For all of the latest advice about how you can get access to the help you need during the COVID-19 crisis, please do look up the special section of my website at damiancollins.com/covid-19. We will be regularly updating this will all relevant local and national information.