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UK government defends wait and see approach

Credit: Belga

The British government defended its current Coronavirus policy on Sunday and said it planned to ask elderly people to self-isolate. 

Boris Johnson’s government has been heavily criticised for its “wait-and-see” approach. 

The latest official figures published on Sunday said the UK has 1,371 cases (232 more than the day before) and 35 people have died (14 more). 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that the government was planning to ask those aged 70 and over to self-isolate for four months when talking to Sky News. “That is part of our action plan, yes, we will provide more detail when the time comes,” he said. 

“We want to have the world’s best response” to the pandemic, he said. 

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Johnson’s government has faced heavy criticism from numerous scientists who said it has waited too long to take radical measures. It is drip-releasing measures that it will introduce “over the coming weeks” through the press. It is also planning to ban mass gatherings from next weekend, a measure many neighbouring countries have already taken. 

“The measures we are taking and planning to take are very significant and will disrupt the day to day life of everyone in the country,” Hancock said, saying the content of the new emergency laws would be released on Tuesday. 

The British press says that as well as closing pubs, restaurants and maybe even schools (which several European countries have already done), the government is also planning to requisition clinics and even hotels to treat patients. 

The government’s current approach is to try and delay the epidemic’s peak until the summer to reduce pressure on the already struggling healthcare services. They said anybody displaying symptoms should self-isolate for a week. 

Scientists have pressured Johnson to publish the data he is basing the government’s policy on and the Health Secretary said that would be done “in the next few days.” 

Hancock also went to great lengths to try and shut down the controversy surrounding the concept of “herd immunity,” which the government’s scientific consultant Patrick Vallance had referred to. This would require 60% of the population to become infected. “Herd immunity is neither our goal nor our policy, it’s a scientific concept,” the Health Secretary explained. “Our policy is to protect lives and beat this virus,” he said. 

The Brussels Times