COVID-19: UK moves to next phase

Quite a few people are contacting me to clarify information around COVID 19. This is a changing situation, but I hope the attached information is helpful. In the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Officer, we have two world-leading advisers. The Government’s response is 100% evidence-based and is guided by them. I believe that we should listen carefully to their advice.

Yesterday the Prime Minister held a press conference, flanked by the Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Medical Officer, to announce a new series of measures in the fight against COVID-19. I have shared it above, as it was a highly informative discussion and is well worth watching if you haven’t already.

The central announcement was that people with a fever or new persistent cough should self-isolate for a week. However, while international school trips are being banned, the UK will not be shutting schools or banning flights. This is in apparent contrast to the actions of other countries, causing some people to question why the government’s response seems to differ from other countries.

The thinking behind the UK’s response was set out comprehensively yesterday by Prof Chris Witty, Dr Patrick Vallance and Boris Johnson, and the Prime Minister was clear that government action is being led entirely by the expert advice of our world-class scientists and clinicians. Decades of research, planning and preparation are being drawn on, with decisions being taken on a broad platform of evidence from epidemiology, statistical modelling and behavioural science – as well as the most up-to-date knowledge of the virus itself.

The aim is to slow the spread, to flatten the peak of the epidemic, and allow immunity to develop without the NHS being overwhelmed (as is happening to health services elsewhere, with the peak still some way off). The timing of measures, as outlined by Prof Witty and Dr Vallance, is vital.

Every decision is made in light of the best evidence - and is directed at saving lives. I will keep you updated.