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The UK's approach to the coronavirus questioned
22 Apr 2020 14:19 #5329

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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[Original article]

The UK government's approach to the coronavirus outbreak raises some important questions. As well as the many issues mentioned in the video above by Dr Tony O'Sullivan, we have to ask ourselves why the government's criteria for easing the current restrictions differ so much from those specified by the World Health Authority.

The UK government's five tests

As outlined by the business secretary on 17th April - see www.itv.com/goodmorningbritain/news/the-governments-five-tests-for-lifting-lockdown

  1. "We must protect the NHS' ability to cope. We must be confident we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK."
  2. "We need to see a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate from coronavirus so we can be confident we have moved beyond the peak."
  3. We need to have reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board."
  4. "We need to be confident that the range of operational challenges including testing capacity and PPE are in hand with supply able to meet future demand."
  5. "We need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS."

The World Health Organisation's six conditions

As set out by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus - see www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article52950.

  • Disease transmission is under control
  • Health systems are able to “detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact”
  • Hot spot risks are minimized in vulnerable places, such as nursing homes
  • Schools, workplaces and other essential places have established preventive measures
  • The risk of importing new cases “can be managed”
  • Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to live under a new normal.

Though all five of the UK's tests obviously do need to be met, they seem weaker and vaguer than the WHO's, especially the its second condition. I appreciate that there's a delicate balancing act between, on the one hand, the negative effects on individuals and on the economy of continuing the lockdown and, on the other hand, the increased risks of further deaths from relaxing the lockdown too soon. But "detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact" is standard epidemiological practice and appears to have been very effective in those countries which have applied it to Covid-19.

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The UK's approach to the coronavirus questioned
24 Apr 2020 16:35 #5330

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Everyone should listen to Tony O'Sullivan on Youtube - such a measured and clear response to the crisis.
Testing is coming in at a very very late stage in the UK and we have been paying for it in extra deaths.
The government needs to follow WHO guidelines as well as their own - why are they not declaring them as their targets too.
An excellent article - thank you for this!

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