The deadly coronavirus pandemic has so far killed more than 11,000 people in the UK with nearly 90,000 confirmed cases, but the Government has warned the country has not even experienced the peak of the virus yet – increasing fears worse is to come. Britain is entering the fourth week of a nationwide lockdown, which has seen people mostly confined to their homes, with police given the power to fine and in some cases arrest those flouting the rules. Businesses have also been forced to close, with spiraling costs from lost trade already seeing a huge collapse in the jobs market, with more than one million people already out of work.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has temporarily taken on leadership duties as Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues his recovery from coronavirus, has already hinted restrictions won’t be eased or lifted anytime soon.
The World Health Organization has also repeatedly warned countries about lifting lockdown restrictions too soon in fear of a revival of the coronavirus outbreak.
But Professor Karol Sikora, Founding Dean and Professor of Medicine at the University of Buckingham and former director of the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Programme, has explained how the lockdown is working and why coronavirus now has “nowhere to run”.
He told Express.co.uk: “The R0 – reproduction at zero immunity – is simply how many other people a single positive coronavirus patient will infect.
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“Coronavirus is believed to have an R0 of 2.6. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine believe we have managed to drag that down to 0.6 using lockdown – just an amazing success.
“If we can keep it under one, it means we have starved the virus of healthy hosts and it will burn out. It simply has nowhere to run.
“It may seem an impossible juggling act to keep that number below one and reopen society but we simply have to find a way.
“Coronavirus will unfortunately be with us for some time, but if we can keep the infection rate low enough so the NHS can cope, and get the economy creeping forwards, that is a win.
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“Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic and others are all beginning the process of restarting their society this week. Nobody is suggesting we follow as quickly, but as soon as the numbers allow we will have to start to have our own discussion.
Professor Sikora warned “we must not run before we can walk” but explained how the Government can begin to ease the lockdown measures by the end of this month.
He warned “extreme caution” will be required against a feared second wave of COVID-19 but is optimistic if Britons continue to follow the lockdown rules, we can return to normal life sooner than expected.
Professor Sikora said: “Opening shops and businesses with fewer than 50 people at the end of April seems a sensible start. It will help business owners out enormously and will allow the rest of us to return to some normality.
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“Assuming all goes well, with testing increasing all the time, the next step would be to remove the lockdown and reduce wide scale social distancing at the start of May. We would have to keep the vulnerable shielded but get schools and public transport up and running.
“Extreme caution will be required at every step, with one eye always on the feared second wave but us Brits are a sensible lot – a few reasonable adjustments and it should work. We can look at data that will come from other countries who are further ahead in the pandemic timeline.
“Bars, restaurants and offices would be next in mid-May.