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UK may be moving too slowly to tackle COVID-19 outbreak -government adviser

Sat, 26th Sep 2020 09:54

LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Britain could be moving too
slowly to tackle the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases because of a
lag between case numbers and deaths which means fatalities have
remained relatively low, a government adviser said on Saturday.

Graham Medley, a professor of infectious disease modelling,
said he worried the country could end up in a position it had
tried to avoid.

"My concern is the lag, is the fact that we end up in a
position that we didn't intend to, either government or the
population ..., because the numbers of deaths at the moment look
very low, even though, as scientists, we say look infections are
increasing," he told BBC Radio.

"And unfortunately that lag means that we don't act soon
enough," Medley, who attends the Scientific Advisory Group for
Emergencies (SAGE) which advises government, said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed tougher
restrictions in the last week to try to curb the spread of the
virus, telling people to work from home if they can and ordering
pubs and restaurants to close earlier.

Some politicians have questioned whether those measures go
far enough however, with the first minister of Scotland, Nicola
Sturgeon, telling households they also cannot mix indoors.
Britain was slow to impose its first lockdown in March.

Medley said SAGE had not discussed what impact the policy of
closing hospitality services earlier would have on infection
rates.

Britain already has the highest death toll in Europe from
COVID-19, at 41,936. While around 900 people died a day at the
April peak of the pandemic, current death rates are around 30.

The Office for National Statistics said on Friday new cases
in England had shot up to around 9,600 per day in the week to
Sept. 19, up from around 6,000 the previous week.

Medley said that meant deaths would rise in three to four
weeks to around 100 deaths a day. "And the things that we do now
will not stop 100 people dying a day, but they will stop that
progressing much higher," he said.

(Reporting by Kate Holton. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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