The British government announced this Sunday that it will ask older people to remain in prolonged isolation for a period that can go up to four months. At the same time, it is working together with the private sector to increase the production of fans. These are the most recent efforts to combat Covid-19 in the United Kingdom, announced a few days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson decreed a “group immunity” strategy, in a type of combat against the disease quite different from what is being done. practiced in the rest of Europe – which even led to criticism from some British scientists.
Downing Street is now seeking to protect the most vulnerable and ensure that the British National Health Service (NHS) is able to respond to the epidemic. On Saturday night, the Telegraph published an article by the Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, where he compared the current situation to that of World War II: “Our generation has never been tested like this. Our grandparents were, in World War II, when our cities were bombed during the Blitz. Despite the crashes every night, the rationing, the loss of life, they came together in one gigantic national effort ”.
Today our generation faces its own test, as it fights a new and very real disease. We have to fight it to protect life ”, he added, promising“ dramatic action ”, of the type“ that is not normally seen in times of peace ”.
This Sunday morning, the Telegraph moving forward with the news that British industry will be put "on a war footing" to help produce equipment for the NHS, including fans. Boris Johnson will meet over the phone with companies like Rolls-Royce and JCB (which makes excavators) to ask them to start producing fans on their assembly lines. The Health Minister confirmed in the meantime to Sky News that "as many fans as possible" are being purchased, but that this may not be enough, due to market saturation. The Unipart group, which manufactures medical supplies, has already announced that it currently has “a lot of talented people working at an advanced pace” in the production of ventilators.
But in addition to the medical supplies measures, Hancock announced on Sunday morning that plans are underway to place elderly people over 70 in isolation in their homes for an extended period of time – which seems to indicate a retreat in the strategy of trying to create group immunity. "I know this is asking a lot of the elderly and the most vulnerable, but this is for their protection," said the Minister of Health. Of the 10 people who died in the UK between Friday and Saturday, eight were men over 80 years old.
A Downing Street fountain revealed to Spectator magazine that the government is now counting on “a major community effort” to support older people and that talks are already underway with home delivery companies like Uber and Deliveroo so they can bring food to the elderly in isolation. The same magazine advances that other measures on the table are the public requisition of private hospitals, the transformation of hotels and other buildings into temporary hospitals, the temporary closure of restaurants and bars and possibly the closing of schools. The same source wanted to assure the magazine that skepticism about adopting tougher measures will not have come from the ministers, but that the government awaits the advice of health authorities as to what is the optimal time window for applying these measures.
The opposition, however, is already publicly questioning whether we will not be facing a reversal of direction by the Boris Johnson government. "We need to understand why the government is taking a different stance from other countries," warned shadow minister of Health Jonathan Ashworth. "If things have changed since the Prime Minister's press conference on Thursday, then the Prime Minister should have a new press conference today to explain why things have changed."
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