PM urged to take COVID action ‘today’ to curb rise in UK cases
Boris Johnson needs to act now, not next week, to tackle a second wave of coronavirus infections across the UK, a senior university lecturer has said.
Asked if he thought a second national lockdown is on the cards, Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, told Sky News: “I hope it will never happen because I don’t think the United Kingdom has got the stamina for a national lockdown. It’s words.
“It is blindingly obvious that if you wanted to keep case numbers down you keep your movements amongst fellow human beings to a minimum.
“It’s as simple as that.
“This is a human-to-human spread of infection, so we have invented all manner of things like the ‘the rule of six’, the curfew at 10pm, and all of that.
“And the one thing, the elephant in the room, that we don’t address is ‘keep your distance away from fellow human beings – move around with as few human beings as is possible’.
“That is as straightforward as it is.”
Proposals are being worked up for a “circuit break” of nationwide restrictions for a short period, which could see essential travel to schools and workplaces continuing, but restaurants and bars would shut – or perhaps run on restricted hours – and different households would be asked not to mix at all.
Asked if this would work and slow the spread of the virus, he replied: “I would love to say yes, but what we learnt from the first lockdown was that the base number, meaning the background level of circulating virus, continued to hover at an uncomfortably high level.
“So where is the evidence that a ‘circuit break’, meaning a short, sharp shutdown, is going to reduce case numbers?
“Our case numbers have resisted in going down because we just can’t have a full lockdown in the way the United Kingdom has been running.
“So unless you have a really, really strict South Korea-style or even China-style shutdown and people don’t move around between groups, it is not going to happen.”
He continued: “Furthermore, we have got another conundrum, schools are open and we know, we all accept, that the schools need to run, so if schools are open it means a lot of things are open. It also means there will be a generation of new cases in the school environment.
“I think my most simple measure over a long period of time is one good measure… why not just give the good public health advice which is, ‘this is human-to-human spread, keep your circulation low amongst fellow human beings’.
“The bottom line is we take personal and mutual responsibility, we say to ourselves ‘every action I’m about to take, is this risky?’ If it is, don’t do it.”
“My advice to Prime Minister Boris Johnson is, don’t sit there and say ‘we are going to do something next week’. It’s tomorrow, it’s today.
“You say, ‘as of today please reduce your circulation in pubs, restaurants, transport, offices and all those places where infection transmits’.
“It’s as straightforward as that.”