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Health leaders have called for an urgent review on the “real risk” of a second wave of coronavirus following an announcement on the biggest easing of lockdown to date.

Ministers have been warned that urgent action is needed to prevent further loss of life and to protect the economy amid growing fears of a renewed Covid-19 outbreak over the winter.

The appeal is backed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing – as well as the chairman of the British Medical Association.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday further easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England.

Mr Johnson said the two-metre social-distancing guidance would be replaced with a “one-metre plus” rule paving the way for pubs, restaurants, hotels and cinemas to begin reopening from July 4.

In an open letter to the leaders of all the UK political parties published in the British Medical Journal, the health leaders call for a “rapid and forward-looking assessment” of the state of national preparedness in the event of a renewed flare-up.

“While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk,” they said.

“Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.

“The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide-ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase.”

They called for the creation of a cross-party commission with a “constructive, non-partisan, four nations approach,” to be established to develop practical recommendations for action based on what had been learned so far.

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