Photo by Chatham House

UK Government criticised for not enacting social distancing measures to combat coronavirus

pharmafile | March 13, 2020 | News story | Medical Communications Chinese Coronavirus, UK Coronavirus, Wuhan Coronavirus, coronavirus 

The UK government has come under fire from health experts and former cabinet ministers for its strategy in fighting the coronavirus.

Last night, Boris Johnson announced the UK was moving to the “delay” phase of dealing with the viral outbreak. But the British government have not followed their European neighbours in banning large scale events and shutting down schools. People with a new and continuous cough have been urged to self-isolate for seven days.

In regard to social distancing measures, Johnson explained: “The scientific advice is that this could do more harm than good at this time – but of course we are keeping this under review and this again may change as the disease spreads.”

Chief among the government’s critics was former Conservative Health Minister Jeremy Hunt. He told BBC Newsnight that refusing to cancel large scale events like football games was “surprising and concerning”, especially due to what has occurred in Italy. He added: “You would have thought that every single thing we do in that four weeks would be designed to slow the spread of people catching the virus.”

However, Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, warned against taking drastic action prematurely, saying: “While we will need to move to that stage, we do not think this is the right moment along the pandemic to do so. But that point will come.”

Currently, the UK has 596 confirmed cases but the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, speculates the actual number could be between 5,000 and 10,000.

Conor Kavanagh


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