Unlike the rest of the countries, it has chosen not to take shock measures and leaves freedom for people to take to the streets without precaution
Boris Johnson made a risky bet and his political future – and most importantly, the lives of many residents of Great Britain – is at stake with the decision not to take drastic action against pandemic and focus its strategy on smoothing the curve of the coronavirus so that the peak of infections occurs within a couple of months, when public health could be more prepared to face the shock.
The plan, according to specialists, responds to the resignation that the government is not going to be able to do anything to stop the coronavirus, that a very considerable number of deaths (even tens of thousands) is inevitable, and that therefore it is better to try to protect the economy from those who survive.
From a medical point of view, the theory is that the more people contaminated now, the greater a percentage of the country will develop immunity to a potential second wave of the epidemic in the coming fall or winter.
This strategy, which responds to the traditional English phlegmatic spirit (keep calm), has received harsh criticism from the scientific community and a sector of the press. On the one hand, because it means putting the most vulnerable elements of society, the elderly and those with chronic diseases in extreme danger.
On the other hand, radical containment measures taken in other countries have paid off, and there is no evidence to support the theory that those who are now contagious will become immune, and that there will be a second attack of the virus.
Furthermore, in economic terms, it is virtually impossible for the United Kingdom to mitigate the looming financial blow, in a globalized world and with its total dependence on the City and the service sector.
“The first epidemiological rule,” says Professor Roy Anderson of Imperial College London, “is that the sooner the intervention, the better. On the other side of the scale is the impact economic, governments cannot simultaneously minimize the death rate and the blow to the economy, they have to choose. “Boris Johnson has chosen, and has told his compatriots that” many of us are going to lose in the coming weeks and months to our loved ones. “And he’s been so hot.”
Richard Horton, editor of the scientific journal The Lancet, has urged Johnson to adopt the type of isolation measures implemented in China, Korea, Italy or Spain, and has accused him of being playing russian roulette with the health and life of the people. Martin Hibberd, from the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has called the government’s action “late and insufficient.” Others say it is “pathetic”.
Events, however, are a step or two ahead of the Prime Minister. Thursday night he announced that they were going to play soccer games normally because an ill person “only” contaminates two or three other people on average in a stadium, and that it is more important to maintain normality as long as possible.
On Friday morning, after announcing the positive from Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta and a Chelsea player, the Premier League suspended the matches and left the rest of the season on the air.
Many doctors (and politicians from other parties) demand that Johnson close schools, ban mass meetings, stimulate teleworking, close borders as India or Israel have done, or suspend flights from the most affected countries, such as the United States.
But instead, the British government’s response to the increase in the crisis has been to stop testing the coronavirus everyone except those who register the most severe symptoms of the disease, and that the rest – although they may be contaminated, have a fever and a cough persists – just stay voluntarily at home for a week.
The Boris Johnson government prioritizes economy and normality and relies on the advice of their medical advisers. He likes to do things his way. When the World Health Organization criticizes countries that “are not taking urgent and aggressive action” against the pandemic, the United Kingdom is one of them.
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