The Government are gambling with our lives, scientists warn that lockdown measures ‘lifted too soon in England’, UK
Some scientists advising the British government are warning that a planned move to ease COVID-19 lockdown measures in England risks being implemented too soon.
Several members of the UK government’s scientific advisory group have voiced concerns after an expert in infectious diseases spoke out to say the move was “dangerous”. Two more have warned respectively that the lid on a “boiling pan” is being lifted, with the risk that the country may “lose control again”.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, Professor John Edmunds and Professor Peter Horby, all members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which has been advising the government on the coronavirus outbreak, said ministers were taking risks by allowing the gradual reopening of shops and schools and larger gatherings to meet in private.
Professor Horby told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have been very successful in bringing it down, decreasing the numbers because of the social distancing.
“But, you will have heard that the R level is between 0.7 and 0.9, so it’s only a bit below one, so, we have got very little headroom, actually.
“And, it’s really important that we use that headroom very wisely and we don’t lose control again.”
Sir Jeremy said in a tweet that the newly introduced NHS test and trace system, which was launched on Thursday, should be “fully working” before measures were eased.
And a host of papers released by Sage revealed advice to the Government given in April said it was “likely” the R-rate – the average number of people which would contract Covid-19 from an infected person – was likely to rise above one should non-essential businesses reopen.
It comes as Britain is set for a weekend of high temperatures ahead of lockdown restrictions being eased which will allow up to six people to meet outside in England if social distancing is observed from Monday.
In the Twitter post, Sir Jeremy said: “Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice.
“TTI (test, trace and isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted.”
Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice. TTI has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted https://t.co/ZmYKs4Go3W— Jeremy Farrar (@JeremyFarrar) May 29, 2020
The UK has the highest number of confirmed deaths and infections from coronavirus in Europe.
A document on a Sage meeting from April 13, released on Friday, showed how the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) that advises the Government warned against reopening shops and leisure facilities.
The document said: “There is limited evidence on the effect of closing of non-essential retail, libraries, bars, restaurants, etc, but it is likely that R would return to above 1 and a subsequent exponential growth in cases.”
Downing Street warned the public that the meet-ups remain prohibited until after the weekend, with Britain set for hot and sunny weather over Saturday and Sunday.
The Lake District National Park Authority has urged people to “show care and consideration for everyone who lives and works” in the area, while Dorset Police has told people to “go home or elsewhere” if an area looks too busy.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak denied that lockdown restrictions were being eased in a “reckless or big bang way”, adding: “We set out the five tests very clearly and because we are now meeting the five tests, because of the heroic efforts of everyone at home, the NHS, everyone, we are in a position to carefully and deliberately start to release the restrictions.
Following the science! Who’s science?
Coronavirus lockdown is being eased too soon in UK, Sage scientists warn
Government advisers warn the easing of lockdown measures from Monday is too soon, and could cause a second spike in coronavirus cases. Sir Jeremy Farrar and Professor John Edmunds, both members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the Government on the pandemic, have said ministers were taking risks by following through with their current plans.
“I wouldn’t say that that’s happening in a reckless or big bang way, as the Prime Minister set out it’s been done in quite a measured and phased way progressively to make sure that we can keep an eye on things and we’re not running before we should.”
According to the scientists, the number of daily coronavirus cases remain “relatively high”, therefore the gradual reopening of schools and shops and larger gatherings to meet privately is a concern.
Is the daily death curve plateauing?
In the briefing just now, a reporter asked if the number of daily deaths had stopped decreasing and was instead plateauing. Dr Harries said that if that were happening “we should be really concerned”.
But she added: “We need to be watching over a longer period than a few days, to get a sense of what is happening.”
She said people needed to keep abiding with social distancing measures and limiting the amount of social interactions they have.
“It is a critical time, we need to be very careful.”
Today the number of deaths in the UK rose by 113 to a total of 38,489. Here’s a government chart showing how the average number of daily deaths has decreased signficantly but appears to be plateauing.
Sir Keir Starmer has taken a none committal approach to the lifting of the COVID-19 Lockdown restrictions while denying any leadership or expression of views on the contravention return to school policy. The teachers union have had limited support from frontbench Labour MPs.
Senior Labour backbenchers have expressed frustration at the party’s reluctance to rally behind the teaching unions as Angela Rayner refused to rule out primary schools reopening from June 1.
While several teaching unions and Labour-run councils have objected outright to the Government’s timetable, Sir Keir Starmer has refused to follow suit due to growing concern that schools closures are hitting poorer students hardest.
Prioritise reopening schools, says Starmer
Starmer quite rightly expresses fears about growing inequality between pupils that he says is a result of school shutdowns he goes onto say: “Reopening schools should be one of the first things that happens when we reach any end to the coronavirus lockdown.”
He said. “he was worried about the impact that the closure of schools was having on more disadvantaged children who would not be getting the same home-schooling that their more advantaged peers were benefiting from.”
However, Starmer never offered any opposition or alternate for example insisting every child be allocated a a computer device to continue a online lessons.
The most frighting prospect of the government lifting lockdown restrictions is we get a second wave. The government are gambling with peoples lives and if there is a second wave that is tantamount to social genocide. The other very frighting prospect is that Sir Keir Starmer is aware of the risk to life and in saying nothing he is using it as a political tactic, that makes him complacent. If that is the case does he think staying quite allows him the ammunition to bring down the Tory’s if there is a second wave? On that he is very wrong it makes him just as guilty!