Coronavirus: UK Government's advice is aimed at building up 'herd immunity'

The UK's chief scientific adviser said it is hoped the Government's approach to tackling coronavirus will create a "herd immunity" to the disease.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 13th March 2020, 12:23 pm

Sir Patrick Vallance said some of the social distancing measures put in place by the Government, including self-isolating for seven days if symptoms develop, are "actually quite extreme".

His comments come after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt questioned the Government's decision not to cancel large gatherings after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned many more families would "lose loved ones before their time".

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A man wearing a protective face mask as commuters cross London Bridge during morning rush hour in London

Asked if there is a fear that clamping down too hard on its spread could see it return, Sir Patrick said: "That is exactly the risk you would expect from previous epidemics.

"If you suppress something very, very hard, when you release those measures it bounces back and it bounces back at the wrong time.

"Those are the key things we need to do."

Mr Hunt, chair of the House of Commons Health select committee, was asked on BBC Newsnight what he thought about the decision not to cancel large gatherings, and he said: "I think it is surprising and concerning that we're not doing any of it at all when we have just four weeks before we get to the stage that Italy is at.

"You would have thought that every single thing we do in that four weeks would be designed to slow the spread of people catching the virus."

Mr Hunt said the UK is in a "national emergency" and that many people "will be surprised and concerned" that the UK is not moving sooner.