Coronavirus: PM shifts towards ‘suppression’ after new analysis of coronavirus death rate

The government ramped up measures against the coronavirus epidemic following new predictions that the UK could otherwise have seen 250,000 deaths.

A new document published by the COVID-19 team at London’s Imperial College – which is advising the government on its coronavirus response – warns the current public health threat is the “most serious” from a respiratory virus since the Spanish Flu in 1918.

They advised the UK adopts a strategy of “epidemic suppression” – for a period of potentially 18 months or more – rather than “mitigation”.

Modelling of the “most effective” mitigation strategy examined had revealed that NHS capacities could be exceeded by at least eightfold – and about 250,000 people could die.

The Imperial team described the suppression of the coronavirus outbreak as “the only viable strategy at the current time” – even if the “social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound”.

They said: “Many countries have adopted such measures already, but even those countries at an earlier stage of their epidemic [such as the UK] will need to do so imminently.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a significant escalation of UK measures in response to coronavirus, including advising everyone in the country to avoid pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres and to only make essential journeys.

What is the latest coronavirus advice?

  • If you live alone and have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, you should self-isolate for seven days
  • If you live in a household with others and have a high temperature or a new and continuous cough, both yourself and all others in your household should stay isolated together for 14 days
  • Everyone, including if you are not displaying symptoms yourself and live in a household where no one is displaying symptoms, should stop all unnecessary contact with others and all unnecessary travel
  • You should work from home where possible and avoid venues such as pubs, clubs, theatres and restaurants
  • Pay particular attention to the advice if you are over 70, pregnant, have underlying health problems or live in London
  • Don’t call the NHS 111 helpline if you have mild or moderate illness and instead seek advice online. But do call if your illness becomes more severe.

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