UK Government ignored SAGE advice to impose full lockdown last month

pharmafile | October 13, 2020 | News story | Manufacturing and Production COVID, UK, UK Coronavirus, coronavirus 

UK Government ministers ignored warnings three weeks ago that the country should go into a temporary full lockdown to reduce the spread of coronavirus infections. 

The government’s SAGE committee urged ministers to consider five measures they put forward. One was a ‘circuit breaker’, which would have been a short period of total lockdown to drive the rate of infection down. The committee said it was necessary to stave off a second wave that would impact the nation’s most vulnerable disproportionately, including those on lower income or BAME communities. 

Other measures suggested were banning all contact within the home with members of other households, closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and personal services, all university and college teaching to be online unless absolutely essential and advice for all those who can work from home to do so. 

These appeared in official documents dated 21 September that were released on Monday after the UK introduced its new three tier alert system that would see further lockdown restrictions triggered if a region met certain infection criteria. The document went on to say: “Over 90% of the population remain susceptible; not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences in terms of direct

COVID-related deaths and the ability of the health service to meet needs.”

So far, the government has only encouraged people to work from home if they could. Despite this, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick insists the paper informed the government’s new system. Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary for the Labour Party, said that he was alarmed by the papers, and government ministers should explain why the advice was rejected.

Conor Kavanagh

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