Previous viral outbreaks have demonstrated that morbidity and mortality associated with reduced access to care can be of equal, if not greater, significance than the impact of the infection itself.
Attendances at emergency departments and two-week wait referrals have fallen significantly, and hospital colleagues are telling us that people, both with and without Covid-19 symptoms, are delaying accessing care leading to very poor outcomes for some, including children.
This is partly a result of public anxiety, with people staying at home too long with symptoms.
It is vital that we do not compound the problem inadvertently with our own messaging to patients. Where clinically necessary, and in the appropriate clinical setting, we should continue to examine people physically, taking the appropriate precautions, particularly where this could inform the diagnosis of an acute condition or risk of deterioration.