What would you do about coronavirus in the UK if you were in charge?

AdamWW

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It's clear that some people here have strong views on how the coronavirus situation in the UK should be handled - this has come up on various threads.

I haven't wanted to pursue it too far elsewhere and take a thread off topic.

So I thought I'd ask in a new thread...

If anyone with an opinion wants to elaborate, I'd be curious to know:
1) What would your overall goal be? (E.g. elimination, prevent the health service from being overloaded, herd immunity)
2) What actions would you take now to achieve that goal?
3) What makes you think they would do that?

As for me...I don't know...and fortunately I don't need to know because I'm not in charge.
(Though there are options that I wouldn't go for)
 
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Richard Scott

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Tell everyone to get on with it, those who need to shield do so and, if of working age, apply for medical certificate that allows them access to a furlough scheme. Sorry it sounds harsh but is the only way I can see out of this. Someone needs to make some tough decisions but no politicians are prepared to do so.
 

AdamWW

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Tell everyone to get on with it, those who need to shield do so and, if of working age, apply for medical certificate that allows them access to a furlough scheme. Sorry it sounds harsh but is the only way I can see out of this. Someone needs to make some tough decisions but no politicians are prepared to do so.
So apart from those who shield, life goes back to normal?
 

AdamWW

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It would be interesting to see some modelling for this approach, to get an idea of:
- How long it would be before those shielding can come out
- What the likely impact on the health service would be - do we have the capacity to cope even with all the 'non vulnurable' population getting it in a fairly short period of time?
- How many people we'd expect to die under this approach (assuming shielding works perfectly), and how many to get seriously ill with possible long term effects.

My big concern would be how well we really can isolate one part of the population from the rest, particularly ones who have to go near a hospital at some point during this.
 

Richard Scott

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It would be interesting to see some modelling for this approach, to get an idea of:
- How long it would be before those shielding can come out
- What the likely impact on the health service would be - do we have the capacity to cope even with all the 'non vulnurable' population getting it in a fairly short period of time?
- How many people we'd expect to die under this approach (assuming shielding works perfectly), and how many to get seriously ill with possible long term effects.

My big concern would be how well we really can isolate one part of the population from the rest, particularly ones who have to go near a hospital at some point during this.
Whatever we do there will be a negative impact but, unfortunately, this has escaped our politicians and a certain number of society who think we can protect everyone. As we have seen with current system this isn't possible and where are we? Stuck in a rut with no foreseeable way out.
 

Enthusiast

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Tell everyone to get on with it, those who need to shield do so and, if of working age, apply for medical certificate that allows them access to a furlough scheme. Sorry it sounds harsh but is the only way I can see out of this. Someone needs to make some tough decisions but no politicians are prepared to do so.
Seconded.

I would add that I would ensure those who have to shield are properly provided for (i.e. arrangements made for deliveries of supplies, etc.). Continuing as we are ("open up", "close down" "open up a bit", "close down a bit more") is absolutely ludicrous. Whatever is done, bar a complete lockdown rigorously enforced (which we have neither the will nor the resources to do) this virus will spread until it's good and ready to stop.
My big concern would be how well we really can isolate one part of the population from the rest,
They would not be forcibly isolated. The choice whether or not to do so would be theirs. Wondering about "how do we model the number of infections and deaths" is moot. We've tried that and most forecasts (bar those with ridiculously wide ranges which are of no use to anyone) have been hopelessly adrift. We need to get on and deal with it as it comes. There really is no other way and certainly the way we're going at present is will simply achieve the same result over a much longer timescale, with concomitant far greater economic damage.
 

AdamWW

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Seconded.

I would add that I would ensure those who have to shield are properly provided for (i.e. arrangements made for deliveries of supplies, etc.). Continuing as we are ("open up", "close down" "open up a bit", "close down a bit more") is absolutely ludicrous. Whatever is done, bar a complete lockdown rigorously enforced (which we have neither the will nor the resources to do) this virus will spread until it's good and ready to stop.

They would not be forcibly isolated. The choice whether or not to do so would be theirs. Wondering about "how do we model the number of infections and deaths" is moot. We've tried that and most forecasts (bar those with ridiculously wide ranges which are of no use to anyone) have been hopelessly adrift. We need to get on and deal with it as it comes. There really is no other way and certainly the way we're going at present is will simply achieve the same result over a much longer timescale, with concomitant far greater economic damage.
No I wasn't suggesting anything forcible. I'm questioning how well anyone can voluntarily isolate themselves in a country with very high infection rates in the general population - when if they go into hospital they will inevitably be treated by infected staff, when care homes will be staffed by infected people, etc. etc.

You're certain then that we have no hope of an effective vaccine, and that all attempts to contain this with contact tracing etc are doomed to failure?

Would you be preapared to reimpose restrictions as necessary if the health service is becoming overwhelmed?
 

Richard Scott

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You're certain then that we have no hope of an effective vaccine, and that all attempts to contain this with contact tracing etc are doomed to failure?

Would you be preapared to reimpose restrictions as necessary if the health service is becoming overwhelmed?
I'm not certain that we won't have an effective vaccine, I'd like to think that we will, but don't want to remain in current situation waiting for it. I personally don't think the NHS will be overwhelmed.
 

Crossover

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One thing I would like to see is if there is some change to be made that it’s properly thought through and the detail boxed off before being briefed out. The briefing the other night (Thursday?) was completely farcical and left everyone initially in conflict with other as to the interpretation
 

ForTheLoveOf

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One thing I would like to see is if there is some change to be made that it’s properly thought through and the detail boxed off before being briefed out. The briefing the other night (Thursday?) was completely farcical and left everyone initially in conflict with other as to the interpretation
Yes, a system of defined stages of restrictions, where everyone is on the same page as to what each stage means, would be ideal to help with this. People would hear that "we're reverting to level 4 restrictions" and they'd know that, for example, this meant that indoor gatherings were banned.

Of course there'd be those who still wouldn't quite grasp that, but I think the public has quite readily accepted technical terminology and the like during this pandemic, so keeping it simple by referring to "level 4 restrictions apply in Greater Manchester, level 3 elsewhere", with a key to what each level of restriction means, would clear up a lot of confusion.

I don't agree with the way these local lockdowns have been done, but if you're going to do them, at least be clear on what applies and where.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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The current approach to lockdown is, and frankly the government's approach during the lockdown as a whole has been, inconsistent from start to finish. If you switch strategies mid-pandemic you are going to get the worst of all worlds and we have seen this come home to roost.

Why did we have no quarantine for months, and then start a blanket quarantine, only to add the exemptions that should have been there in the first place, only to suddenly de-exempt several countries that were borderline for inclusion in the exemptions list in the first place?

If local lockdowns are the answer to balancing health and the economy, why is Appley Bridge being treated the same as Rochdale? Or Ilkley the same as Bradford city centre? Or Darwen the same as Blackburn? The virus doesn't respect political boundaries, it transmits via social contact. Social boundaries rarely reflect political ones.

It's by looking at where the government has gone wrong that you can start to formulate a sensible response to what should now be done. There's no point crying over spilt milk - the cockups of earlier this year can't now be undone. We can start making the right decisions going forward, though.

Now, let's assume that we are going to continue with the elimination approach (which has countless incumbent side-effects, but sadly looks to continue regardless). All wholesale "local" lockdowns, such as the one 'oop norf', should be scrapped and replaced with a ward-by-ward, true lockdown.

This lockdown shouldn't be what we think of as a "lockdown" in this country. It should literally mean house arrest, no ifs or buts. Roadblocks should be in place, and food delivered to people's front doors. Police patrolling the streets and ensuring that no-one leaves their house unless they're being taken away in an ambulance or police car!

Such a lockdown would be devastating to the people affected (which would sadly include many innocent "bystanders" without the disease). This would be a price worth paying for the freedom that could then be granted to everyone else, and it would be a sacrifice that would of course only have to last for 14 days.

Of course everyone in the ward would be tested, preferably multiple times during the lockdown, to get an idea of figures and spread. Such restrictions should be applied to any ward which had known cases in the previous 14 days.

All other restrictions on daily life could be eliminated. Everyone could be allowed to live their life as normal, without masks, social distancing, shielding or closures, and although the economy clearly wouldn't fully recover immediately, it would do so a darnsight quicker than it is going to, given what the government are actually doing.

Naturally, anyone arriving from outside the area applying such a policy (be that England, the whole of Britain, or NI too if the RoI agreed to implement the same measures) would have to go into a similarly strict 14 day quarantine. As in, don't even bother with passport control or anything like that, send people straight to a hotel at the airport, to be confined to their room for 14 days.

Now, would this ultimately be the right approach? I'm not sure. But it would be a hell of a lot more logical than the current approach, and ultimately virtually everyone in the country would be living a totally normal life, apart from the quarantine if holidaying. You would have issues with people not wanting to take tests in case it comes up positive and then their ward is locked down, but with sufficient testing capacity, it's easy enough to detect flare-ups using random (mandatory) sampling.
 

Scotrail12

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This lockdown shouldn't be what we think of as a "lockdown" in this country. It should literally mean house arrest, no ifs or buts. Roadblocks should be in place, and food delivered to people's front doors. Police patrolling the streets and ensuring that no-one leaves their house unless they're being taken away in an ambulance or police car!
Surely you're not being serious?
 

Harpers Tate

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One approach might be to
a) advise the public, constantly updated with regular changes, as to our best understanding of how the disease may be transmitted, its current prevalence, and in what circumstances one is most likely to catch it (eg suppose that might be: at home, low risk; on a beach or in a park, low risk; in a pub/nightclub/etc, high risk) and the likely health impacts and so on
b) deny any health service involvement in the treatment of Covid19 except for defined essential workers (such as, health workers, carers, utility maintenance, etc). You're on your own.
c) armed with that information, allow people freedom to do whatever they want; businesses ditto. Give people personal responsibility for their own actions, rather than centralising decisions, with the attendant criticism that this inevitably draws from whichever sector happens to see itself as negatively affected and/or unfairly treated.
 

Bantamzen

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Tell everyone to get on with it, those who need to shield do so and, if of working age, apply for medical certificate that allows them access to a furlough scheme. Sorry it sounds harsh but is the only way I can see out of this. Someone needs to make some tough decisions but no politicians are prepared to do so.
Is the correct answer. Because otherwise we end up where we are right now, in a circle of lowdown-off / lockdown-on as politicians set covid targets that can never be reached, and make ordinary, hard working men & women pay for their stupid policies.
 

adc82140

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1 metre social distancing, restrict superspreading events where you are with the same people in close contact for extended periods (nightclubs, conferences etc). Extensive hand washing. A big push on hygiene education. Everything else as normal. Keep an eye on hospital admissions, and prepare to introduce further measures only if there is a danger of the health service being overwhelmed.
 

duncanp

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This lockdown shouldn't be what we think of as a "lockdown" in this country. It should literally mean house arrest, no ifs or buts. Roadblocks should be in place, and food delivered to people's front doors. Police patrolling the streets and ensuring that no-one leaves their house unless they're being taken away in an ambulance or police car!

Such a lockdown would be devastating to the people affected (which would sadly include many innocent "bystanders" without the disease). This would be a price worth paying for the freedom that could then be granted to everyone else, and it would be a sacrifice that would of course only have to last for 14 days.
And what do you propose should happen in an affected ward if someone contracts a new case a few days after the lockdown house arrest is lifted?

Do you think people are going to stand for being put under lockdown house arrest multiple times within a short period time just because of a few cases of COVID-19?

It could also lead to people falsely claiming they had a medical emergency just to get taken to hospital in an ambulance, and then not returning to their own home after being discharged from hospital.

There would have to be financial compensation for affected people and business, otherwise there would be serious civil unrest if people felt they were being unfairly penalised.
 

Yew

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No detriment policies to those who have to self-isolate, 100% pay, and any booked events reimbursed by the Government. We should not allow perverse incentives, so that doing the right thing makes people lose out more than absolutely necessary.

Apart from that, I'd try to balance restrictions to keep the NHS around (random figure here) 80% full, and only impose restrictions if there's a risk of overwhelming. The original "flatten the curve" aproach.
 

philthetube

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Not allow pubs and restaurants to sell alcohol, food and soft drinks only, or maybe amount restricted by units and only with a meal, social distancing and drunks don't happen at the same time.
 

Bantamzen

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Not allow pubs and restaurants to sell alcohol, food and soft drinks only, or maybe amount restricted by units and only with a meal, social distancing and drunks don't happen at the same time.
How would that help? You do understand that going into a pub or restaurant doesn't immediately make you drunk right? Honestly, I am getting really fed up with this level of blaming & stereotyping. The vast majority of cases do not come from pubs & restaurants, they come from health & care places. And the more people look to shift the blame, the more they let this inept government off the hook for not protecting the most vulnerable as they should have done, and indeed were aware that they needed to at the very start.
 

Bletchleyite

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One thing I would like to see is if there is some change to be made that it’s properly thought through and the detail boxed off before being briefed out. The briefing the other night (Thursday?) was completely farcical and left everyone initially in conflict with other as to the interpretation
Agreed. I think, barring emergencies, there should be a weekly press conference to brief measures for the following week (i.e. coming into effect 0001 Monday). Daily is too much but none at all isn't working. I'd go for 2000 Thursday.
 

philosopher

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Not allow pubs and restaurants to sell alcohol, food and soft drinks only, or maybe amount restricted by units and only with a meal, social distancing and drunks don't happen at the same time.
If you do that then people will just get drunk at home, where it can’t be controlled. At least in a pub, the patrons can be asked to leave if they are to drunk and are not social distancing.
 

ForTheLoveOf

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Surely you're not being serious?
I don't think it would be a popular measure at first, but realistically speaking it is the only way of effectively stamping out the disease, if that is the approach you want to take. The current approach gives us the worst of all worlds, with everyone inconvenienced to a certain degree, likely for an indefinite period of time, because a few people have the disease. Better to massively inconvenience a very small number of people for a short period of time.

And what do you propose should happen in an affected ward if someone contracts a new case a few days after the lockdown house arrest is lifted?

Do you think people are going to stand for being put under lockdown house arrest multiple times within a short period time just because of a few cases of COVID-19?

It could also lead to people falsely claiming they had a medical emergency just to get taken to hospital in an ambulance, and then not returning to their own home after being discharged from hospital.

There would have to be financial compensation for affected people and business, otherwise there would be serious civil unrest if people felt they were being unfairly penalised.
Oh, absolutely. But if we can afford to put 10m people on furlough for 6 months, we can afford to pay a few tens of thousands of people and businesses 100% of their income for 14 days at a time. That is the smallest issue of all.

There would initially no doubt be a certain amount of resentment but ultimately this is the only to truly stop flare-ups and to completely eliminate community transmission. Alternatively you could make the whole country undergo such a tight lockdown for 14 days and then that would be the end of the virus in this country, but I'm sure the issues with that approach don't need really to be spelled out.
 

Bletchleyite

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Surely you're not being serious?
That would be one level to be used in severe emergency. I'd suggest it would kick in if the NHS was actually overwhelmed in an area, i.e. there was a coronavirus patient who presented at hospital and was not able to receive treatment, or when ventilators had to be rationed. I'm sure that was on the cards had it been required.

I'd suggest:

1: no social distancing or shielding
2: everything open but with distancing measures and masks; shielding paused
3: as 2 but social venues outdoors only other than use of toilets
4: the lockdown we actually had
5: no leaving home for any reason unless in an ambulance, Army distributes emergency food/medicine packages etc

I think this is roughly what Australia has.

If you do that then people will just get drunk at home, where it can’t be controlled. At least in a pub, the patrons can be asked to leave if they are to drunk and are not social distancing.
I do wonder if there's something in what South Africa did in banning alcohol sales entirely. It wouldn't be nice, but it does appear that some of the main issues are caused by people getting drunk and thus disregarding distancing.
 

Huntergreed

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If I was in charge:

If I was in charge, in March when cases started to rise I would’ve called a lockdown much sooner with the aim of eliminating it completely (we’re in a lucky position as an island in that we can afford to do this and enforce 2 week quarantine for anyone entering/leaving, no exceptions)

Now? we can’t afford to lock down again, deprive our kids of more education etc... I don’t think the current strategy is working. I may simply go for the ‘strongly advise the vulnerable to shield and allow the virus to work through the healthy’ as, statistically, this is unlikely to overwhelm the NHS, provided a full shielding package was rolled out and care homes were properly locked down (staff living there etc)
 

Bletchleyite

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Now? we can’t afford to lock down again, deprive our kids of more education etc... I don’t think the current strategy is working. I may simply go for the ‘strongly advise the vulnerable to shield and allow the virus to work through the healthy’ as, statistically, this is unlikely to overwhelm the NHS, provided a full shielding package was rolled out and care homes were properly locked down (staff living there etc)
If cases go up again, I'd agree on care homes - staff would need to live in for week or two-week shifts with deliveries dropped outside and properly sanitised, and the staff tested before starting and before leaving.
 

duncanp

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If you do that then people will just get drunk at home, where it can’t be controlled. At least in a pub, the patrons can be asked to leave if they are to drunk and are not social distancing.
Exactly.

If you close pubs, then people will socialise elsewhere, and probably in a less controlled fashion, which could actually lead to an increase in the infection rate.

And there are political considerations too.

If pubs in England close ostensibly to allow schools to re-open, and yet schools and pubs in Scotland both, can you imagine what a gift that would be to Nicola Sturgeon in next years Scottish Parliament election?

Which is probably why Boris Johnson won't order a blanket closure of all pubs in England, whatever the scientists say.

It is being leaked reported in the papers this morning that the (UK) government is preparing other measures, such as enhanced shielding and tighter local restrictions, which can be varied to suit local circumstances.

This is, I think, the right approach.
 

Bletchleyite

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It is being leaked reported in the papers this morning that the (UK) government is preparing other measures, such as enhanced shielding and tighter local restrictions, which can be varied to suit local circumstances.

This is, I think, the right approach.
I would be inclined to agree; it did appear in early March that had London been locked down (properly, i.e. stop the railway entirely and Army checkpoints at all the M25 bridges, as just about every other country would do), full lockdown elsewhere in the country may well have been avoidable.
 

Bantamzen

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I would be inclined to agree; it did appear in early March that had London been locked down (properly, i.e. stop the railway entirely and Army checkpoints at all the M25 bridges, as just about every other country would do), full lockdown elsewhere in the country may well have been avoidable.
Are you being serious? Army checkpoints? <insert facepalm meme here>
 

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