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UK defies EU's strategy on Covid-19; lockdown not yet in sight

By Gene Alcantara

LONDON --As most of the European Union member countries agree to step up their collaborative efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the continent, UK seems to be taking a different tack. Unlike the decision of Spain, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, and France, the United Kingdom is still pushing back the lockdown strategy.

In his first daily TV regular briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled further measures to contain Covid-19 but stopped short of declaring a lockdown. Flanked by Sir Patrick Valance, Chief Scientific Advisor and Prof. Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, PM Johnson announced the new measures to deal with Covid-19.

These measures include avoiding social contact and non-essential travel; avoiding mass gatherings and crowded places such as pubs, clubs, theaters and restaurants; whole household 14-day isolation advice if anyone shows symptoms such as persistent cough or fever.

Working from home where possible was also encouraged, people were urged to cease unnecessary visits to relatives and friends in care homes and people with serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks.” Those people who stay at home and avoid contact were told to ask others for help or if they have to leave the house, to maintain safe distance from other people.

Also, schools will continue to be open for the moment.

The UK response to Covid-19 is seen as lagging for about “three weeks” behind Italy, the continent’s hardest-hit country.

Like various countries in Europe, UK struggles with coming up with timely responses to the ever-changing stages of the coronavirus.

At the moment, the UK is approaching the fast growth part, but in keeping up with its “herd immunity” approach, where vulnerable groups are attended to first and the rest of the population left exposed to develop immunity to the virus, the government stands pat on its decision to keep schools open, as least for now.

However, the government is stepping up testing which it sees as key to stemming the rise in case incidence as without any drastic action, the country faces the risk that cases could double every 5-6 days.

“We are in a prolonged period, and people should think against social contact” (of a) “minimum of weeks, maybe months,” Johnson said.

The PM also warns that coronavirus is now in a phase of rapid spread and the key things are the social distancing actions to give space to the National Health Service (NHS) and provide time for important research to create the remedies and hopefully, vaccines to deal with this new coronavirus.

Johnson stressed that the general principle in the UK approach is to look after people and for a long period and that people are not penalized but should feel protected amidst the pandemic.

While the measures mean a very considerable psychological behavioral change for the people in the UK, the PM said he has absolutely no doubt that curbing the virus can be done and the British economy will eventually bounce back.

Trafalgar Square, Central London Photo by Gene Alcantara

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