A ‘ROBUST’ winter plan to tackle influenza has been created, councillor reveals – as government fears a second coronavirus wave is possible.

Coming to the end of the health and wellbeing board meeting on July 21 (Tuesday), councillor Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill), lead member for health and social care, said: “We would like to reassure the public we have a very, very detailed, comprehensive and elevated plan for the winter.”

The government fears a second wave could be possible in the winter – with the UK’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, saying there is a “very high likelihood” of a rise in coronavirus cases in the colder months.

Speaking to the Observer, Cllr Carroll, who is also an epidemiologist, said as the UK will start to enter influenza season, the added pressures of Covid-19 will create challenges for the health care system.

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He said: “Every year, influenza season is a challenge to the NHS and adult social care – but when you combine that with coronavirus, the challenges on both adult social care and the health care system will likely be increased.”

Working with partners – a ‘robust’ plan has been created for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) which focuses on delivering services and provisions to residents during the flu season.

This includes making sure the NHS can carry out the government’s influenza vaccination programme in RBWM.

In the last couple months, Cllr Carroll said the council has identified ‘virtually’ everyone who is shielding and vulnerable people who are at risk not only from coronavirus, but influenza as well.

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Checks have also been made that the borough’s volunteering network is prepared for the increase in demand to help people with direct care or helping those who may need to self-isolate such as doing their shopping or simply talking to them.

Cllr Carroll said: “I think one of the advantages we have is that we are preparing and planning even more in advance than we usually would be because we are in a pandemic.

“That does give some advantage because it means assistance can get coordinated and focused – but that’s not, under no circumstance, minimising the seriousness of the challenges ahead.”

When asked if he thinks a second wave is likely, Cllr Carroll said: “I think we have to remain very cautious and consider where we are in this pandemic.

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“Looking at the data day-to-day, there’s a reasonable high chance – and this is for all countries – of a second wave. This is just the nature of this virus.

“I think the critical thing is that although the lockdown has been eased to some extent, people need to retain high levels of vigilance around public health protocols because the more people that do that, the greater the impact on the virus will be in terms of reducing the rate of transmission and keeping that R number as low as possible.”

He added: “What I’ve been telling officers is ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’ – I think that’s the mentality we need to adopt.”

More details on the winter plan will revealed later throughout the year.