As the UK is now facing the possibility of a second national lockdown, an independent group of scientists headed by Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK government, publishes an emergency ten point plan to avoid a second lockdown.


First published in September 2020.


In their newest report, the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent SAGE) explains that the UK is in a crisis. “Infections and hospital admissions are rapidly increasing. The testing system has broken down and it will be weeks before it is sorted. If nothing changes, there will come a point soon when the situation is so far out of control that the only possible response will be a second national lockdown and our lives will be completely disrupted once again.”

Independent SAGE scientists rightly explain that nobody wants a second national lockdown to take place. Having to go ahead with a national lockdown is widely seen as a symbol of failure for the government.

Sir David King and his colleagues thus write that “we can only avoid (another lockdown) if we take urgent action. We must take action immediately to regain control of the pandemic and drive down infections now.

On a more practical note, the scientists say that “the virus will continue to pose a threat for months, if not years,” and so “for now we need a comprehensive plan that includes measures that we can take immediately and a strategy to rebuild our broken test and trace system.”

Finally, Independent SAGE doesn’t hold back criticism of the government which it says “has abdicated its responsibility to provide such a plan.”

Sir David King, Chair of Independent SAGE. / Wikimedia – Climaterepair

The group’s own guidance on what it recommends as effective measures is split in two categories of mesures:

IMMEDIATE MEASURES (to be reviewed, as appropriate, when a functional testing system is in place and infections are back under control):

  1. Pubs and restaurants limited to outdoor service;
  2. Work at home if possible. No return to workplaces until certified COVID safe. Provide financial support to employees in the interim;
  3. Fund schools to allow smaller, socially distanced classes. Provide digital resources for all students and teachers for study/work at home;
  4. No in-person teaching at Colleges and Universities;
  5. Limit indoor social interaction to a bubble of three households;
  6. Create an emergency fund in each local authority area and provide wrap around support for all those needing to shield or self-isolate (including those unable to get tested);
  7. Re-establish the 2-metre distance rule.

A STRATEGY FOR BUILDING A FUNCTIONAL TESTING SYSTEM:

  1. Rebuild the testing system based on tried and trusted local authority, NHS and public health structures, including recruiting and deploying contact tracers locally;
  2. Provide clear consistent messaging about testing and other protective measures that is culturally competent and accessible to all sections of the community;
  3. Establish a clear strategy and set of priorities for symptomatic and asymptomatic testing.

On Monday morning, the government Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Chris Witty and Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Patrick Vallance gave a televised briefing before the Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the nation later this week.

“The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic,” the CMO said. “We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.

Speaking at Downing Street they explained: “At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days... If, and that’s quite a big if, but if that continues unabated, and this grows, doubling every seven days... if that continued you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day... 50,000 cases per day would be expected to lead a month later, so the middle of November say, to 200-plus deaths per day.”🔷



PMP News reporting.


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[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 21 September 2020. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Geograph/Bernard Sharp. - Coronavirus lockdown, Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire. | 23 March 2020. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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