The coronavirus crisis continues to grow in the UK with few signs that the pandemic is going to be under control any time soon.
The COVID-19 outbreak has had a huge impact across the country, with over 6,000 people who have tested positive for coronavirus having already died. And just two-days ago, prime minister, Boris Johnson, was released from St. Thomas’ Hospital in London as a precaution after his own coronavirus symptoms significantly worsened.
More than 55,000 people in the UK have tested positive for the virus so far according to the latest government figures but, with testing still limited in many parts of the country, it is likely the true number of people battling coronavirus is actually much higher.
Employment has been hit hard by the virus too. A lot of businesses are struggling to cope as a result of the virus with the government offering to cover up to 80 per cent of staff wages through a furlough scheme. Here are how three key UK sectors are coping with the pandemic so far.
We have to start with the healthcare industry, which has come under a tremendous amount of strain. The opening of various field hospitals across the UK – such as the ExCel centre in London, which has 4,000 beds, has helped to increase the number of coronavirus patients who can be treated. But finding enough staff to do so has proven to be difficult.
The UK was already battling a nurses shortage and with a lot of healthcare workers having been struck down by the virus this has been exacerbated. The lack of testing has caused further problems. Many NHS staff have had to self-isolate due to having some of the symptoms of the virus. But without testing, they do not know for sure whether or not they have had the virus.
Recently retired healthcare workers have been urged to come back to the NHS. Thousands have chosen to do so despite this putting themselves at an increased risk of contracting the virus.
“The whole country needs the NHS right now and, if you’re a retired doctor or a retired nurse, then your NHS needs you,” said the health secretary, Matt Hancock, on social media.
There have been numerous other issues facing the healthcare sector, such as a shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE for short. This has led to many nurses having to come up with their own PPE solutions to keep themselves safe from contracting the virus at work.
Independent hospitals have also agreed a deal with NHS England, with thousands of beds and around 20,000 workers moved over to public use as a result. But a shortage of doctors and nurses looks set to be one of the big issues in the fight against coronavirus in the UK.
With land-based casinos in the UK forced to close their doors as they are deemed to be non-essential businesses, many customers have had to go online to play their favorite games. And while traditional bookmakers are struggling due to a lack of sport, the share price of William Hill dipped by a quarter in one day last month; online casinos are coping better with the virus.
A good entrepreneur will be able to offer many different job opportunities to a flooded market and online casinos seem set to be one of the UK’s growth areas during the coronavirus crisis.
But the UK’s gambling regulator, the Gambling Commission, has reminded casino companies of their obligations in terms of protecting customers who could be vulnerable to addiction issues.
Strong growth has been reported by some casino, bingo and online poker operators during the pandemic. However, it is unclear whether this has led to an increase in employment numbers.
Perhaps the biggest growth sector in the UK during the COVID-19 outbreak has been the delivery industry. Lockdown conditions have been in place for more than two weeks and a lot of people are ordering more groceries and items from the internet so that they can stay at home.
Tesco has added around 2,500 delivery drivers since the start of the pandemic in order to keep up. The company’s chief executive Dave Lewis has stated that grocery shopping services are currently seeing “unprecedented levels of demand”.
The picture at other supermarkets such as Asda and Sainsbury’s has been similar. Online delivery specialists like Ocado have also been struggling to meet demand from both existing customers as well as those trying to sign up.
Non-contact deliveries have been introduced in a bid to protect drivers as much as possible. As well as supermarkets, many restaurants that have been forced to close their doors have started to offer online deliveries of their food in a bid to stay in businesses throughout the outbreak.
Economists like David Blanchflower – who used to be a Bank of England official – have warned that the economic impact of COVID-19 could be comparable to the 1930s Great Depression. But the healthcare, online casinos and delivery industries look set for massive growth.