MORE than eight in 10 Northern Irish doctors think that a second wave of Covid-19 is likely to happen in the next six months.
Around 50% of those admitted that it was their greatest fear for the health service, in a recent survey.
Dr Tom Black, Chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland warned that there's a "long winter ahead" for Ireland and the UK, insisting that we have only passed the "first phase" of the pandemic.
"The past few days have clearly demonstrated that we are only through the first phase of this pandemic and there is going to be a long winter ahead," Dr Black said.
"Our members, who have worked throughout the last six months either on the wards, in practices, in the community or remotely, are rightly worried that we have not been able to get this disease under control."
More than half of BMA doctors (57%) stressed that confusing messages regarding public health measures, including advice on mask-wearing and social interactions, as well as a general lack of consistent enforcement and monitoring of the rules, was the thing most likely to spark a second wave of coronavirus.
To prevent such a scenario, most doctors surveyed argued that an efficient and coherent approach to local outbreaks was needed - as well as clearer information on public health advice.
"From this survey we can see that doctors think we need two things to prevent a second, worse peak of Covid-19; a fit for purpose track and trace system and a coherent, rapid and consistent approach to getting local outbreaks under control," Dr Black added.
"Last week the Executive made the right moves in that direction with localised lockdowns and alongside that we need clear messages for the general public so they understand what they are being asked to do and why.
"For the health service itself doctors identified two clear priorities to get it back onto a sustainable footing; Covid-secure workplaces and adequate supplies of PPE, and prioritisation of patients to clear the backlog of those who need assessed urgently."