The Trafalgar Square in London wears a deserted look, after the government urged people to stay at home as much as possible. (Photo: Isabel Infantes/AFP via Getty Images)
Eastern Eye Staff
THE UK will have to maintain social distancing measures for “at least most of a year”, say the government’s scientific advisers.
“It was agreed that a policy of alternating between periods of more and less strict social distancing measures could plausibly be effective at keeping the number of critical care cases within capacity,” noted a document by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies on Friday (20).
“These would need to be in place for at least most of a year.”
The group added that “at least half of the year would be spent under the stricter social distancing measures”.
The UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, described the coronavirus pandemic as an “incredibly fast-moving, developing situation”, adding that his team was giving the “clearest and most reliable scientific advice”.
He noted that there would be “a two-three week delay between measures being put into place and their impact being felt in intensive care units”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, meanwhile, urged people to stay at home.
“If you stay at home, you are saving lives,” he said on a Sky News show this morning.
“I know, of course, this is a more dangerous disease for older people but not exclusively, some young people get it too.”
He also warned that 1.4 million people with pre-existing health issues were at high risk.
He said the NHS would send guidance communication to the 1.4 million people at risk.
The vulnerable people’s list included:
Cancer patients undergoing chemo or radiotherapy
People suffering from cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
People with severe ailments, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
Hancock said: “Many of these people have pre-existing health conditions and so will be very worried right now, and I understand that, and they’ll need very specific sets of action.
“For instance, how do you go about still getting your chemo if you have cancer whilst also social-distancing?
“If you have cancer it’s particularly important to stay away from other people, but you also of course have got to keep going with your chemotherapy.”
These were the “most difficult and challenging cases so we’ll be getting in contact with them, but if people think that they are on the list and don’t receive a communication from the NHS, then they also need to get in contact”.
As on Friday afternoon, the UK had reported 3,269 confirmed coronavirus infections, 144 deaths and 65 cases of recovery.