An adviser to the UK government has said a short national circuit-breaker – a near total shutdown – may be necessary as he described other measures as “biting around the edges”.
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
I can see very little way of getting on top of this without some kind of a circuit-breaker because the numbers are actually pretty eye-watering in some bits of the country and I think it’s going to be very hard to get on top of this just biting around the edges.
I think there will be every effort to keep schools open. If in the end we have to take kids out for two weeks, calm it all down, and then start ideally embedded in a much more rigorous testing regime then that’s maybe what we may have to do.
The Conservative former health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, also indicated support for a national circuit-breaker lockdown. He said:
I’ve always thought that it’s better to do things quickly and decisively than to wait until the virus has grown so I have a lot of sympathy with that.
But I think more important right now is we stop this public war of words between local leaders and national leaders because in a pandemic the most important thing is a consistent message because you really have to have compliance with the very, very important public health messages about social distancing.
And if local leaders and national leaders are saying different things, it’s incredibly damaging. I really do urge Andy Burnham and other local leaders to have these arguments, and I’m sure they’re very fierce arguments and I’m sure there’s some justification for some of their concerns, but have those arguments in private not in public because that’s so damaging to the national fight against the virus.