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The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 issue 32: National security and COVID-19

A major UK government review into national security and how to deal with pandemics is discussed in this week’s Manchester Briefing.

The fortnightly Briefing, produced by Alliance MBS and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, brings together international lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal in the wake of the pandemic, and has been running since the start of the crisis a year ago.

This week the government published its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy which provides a comprehensive view of the UK’s national security and international policy.

It recognises that national resilience goes hand in hand with global resilience and that the unprecedented challenges brought about by COVID-19 highlights how international cooperation is critical yet fragile under such immense stress.

The review says outbreaks of infectious disease are likely to become more frequent in the future and efforts to manage and mitigate their effects is essential. The review supports the view that the resilience and health sectors are inextricably intertwined and require strategic prioritization at local, national and global levels.

Furthermore, it raises the potential to develop local resilience capability to provide support during major emergencies – a topic discussed in previous Manchester Briefings. This can be achieved through measures such as equitable access to healthcare and vaccines, and by providing funding to support local authority response capabilities.

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Essex experience

The latest Briefing also presents a high-level assessment report of the impacts that Essex and Essex public services experienced as a result of the first wave of COVID-19 infections last year.

The objective of the assessment was to capture a snapshot of observed impacts and inform the development of partner responses to the challenges identified. As the crisis unfolded the Essex Resilience Forum and Recovery Co-ordination Group conducted a ‘light touch’ impact assessment on the non-pharmaceutical measures that were implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to learn from the performance of response systems and support the development of long-term recovery aims and plans.

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News agenda

Also in this week’s Briefing there is a discussion around how COVID-19 has dominated news, media, and local and national government communications since the pandemic began.

One study found that excessive media use was associated with negative psychological outcomes, such as anxiety and stress. The Briefing discusses how positive news and stories may help relieve the mental fatigue of COVID-19.

There is also a discussion around whether recovery strategies will have negative impacts on the environment. The United Nations Development Programme has highlighted the need to integrate environmental concerns into recovery plans and strategies, while new environmental issues that the pandemic itself has caused also need to be recognised and addressed such as large amounts of medical waste from increased use of disposable PPE, single-use plastics and sanitization chemicals.

The Manchester Briefing is aimed at those who plan and implement recovery from COVID-19, including government emergency planners and resilience officers. The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to the pandemic.

Download this week's Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 (issue 32)

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