On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a raft of new social distancing measures to help prevent the coronavirus epidemic from spreading further. The UK Government is encouraging everyone to take the following actions:
- People should avoid meeting friends and family and avoid large gatherings and crowded places, such as clubs, restaurants and pubs.
- Employees should be allowed to work from home if they can.
- Visits to care homes should be avoided.
- The NHS should only be used when absolutely necessary.
- Those with fatal health conditions should self-isolate “for 12 weeks.”
- Anyone sharing a house with an individual who has a persistent fever or cough should stay at home for two weeks.
- People should stay a safe distance from each other.
Prevention is the Key
As governments across the world stimulate their economies through fiscal policies, preventative measures have always been the key to stopping the virus from spreading. That is why Boris has made the right decision in urging British citizens to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Witty.
Although 55 people have died from Covid-19 in the UK so far, a number much smaller than Italy, which has experienced 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths. There are many reasons for this. As the BBC‘s Robert Cuffe argues, compared to Italy the UK had diagnosed more cases earlier on, whilst many scientists believe too many cases went undetected in Italy.
The coronavirus has also been more concentrated in Italy, with most cases being discovered in the Lombardy region, which accounts for 60 out of 100 cases in the country. By contrast, Covid-19 has been more spread out throughout the UK. Professor Whitworth told the BBC that because Italy’s population is older than Britain’s, that is why more Italians have died as a result of the epidemic. This shows that because of early detection and demographics, the UK has been more successful than Italy in curbing the number of coronavirus-related illnesses.
Is Britain Responding Forcefully Enough to Coronavirus?
Mark Landler and Stephen Castle of the New York Times argue that the British Government’s response to the coronavirus has been relaxed and that Boris’s recommended measures on Monday were soft when compared to other countries that have closed their borders. That is because the UK has experienced the lowest number of global cases so far out of 11 countries that have been affected the most by the coronavirus, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
The actual number of Covid-19 cases is estimated to be up to 55,000 in the UK, but if more people follow the Government’s advice, these predicted numbers may get lower over time.
The British Government has not followed the Republic of Ireland’s lead and closed its schools, but there are good reasons for this. Children are less likely to be infected by the coronavirus and politicians fear that premature restrictions could overwhelm the NHS.
However, the UK Government has been criticised for not helping the hospitality sector sooner. The British Beer and Pub Association has written to Boris, demanding urgent steps are taken to avoid mass job losses and closures, especially when Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Chancellor Rushi Sunak announced that smaller businesses in the hospitality sector with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will receive cash grants of up to £25,000. They will also be eligible for a business rates holiday irrespective of their rateable value.
There is no doubt the Prime Minister has done everything he can to stem the number of Covid-19 cases throughout the nation and that they have come to the rescue of the hospitality sector in good time. It is no wonder that Trump thinks that the British have handled the coronavirus well.