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UK ramps up measures to combat coronavirus spread

New advice encourages ‘social-distancing’ as cases expected to soar

coronavirus map

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has taken a sharp U-turn, as the latest government advice to curb the rise of the novel coronavirus outbreak encourages new measures that are likely to significantly impact everyday life for thousands.

On Monday, Johnson announced a broad range of new measures which included recommendations to stop all unnecessary travel and ‘non-essential contact’, as well as encouraging work from home if possible and the avoidance of pubs, clubs and theatres.

The Prime Minister also extended and widened the criteria for self-isolation, recommending that anyone with a fever or persistent cough – two symptoms of the novel coronavirus – now need to stay at home for seven days if the live alone or 14 days if they live with other people.

Even more significantly, the government has advised that if anyone in a household experiences coronavirus symptoms, everyone living with them must also self-isolate for 14 days.

Johnson also reiterated the risks to those over the age of 70, as well as those with underlying health condition and pregnant women – the reduction of ‘non-essential contact’ is particularly important for these groups.

The new measures are a significant change from the previous advice issued by the UK advice last week – so what changed?

According to The Guardian, new data detailing the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on Italy’s health care system showed a ‘catastrophic’ effect on the service.

The data showed that 30% of those who were hospitalised with the coronavirus – which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19 – were eventually admitted to intensive care.

Experts from Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine analysed the data from Italy to model how a similar outbreak in the UK would unfold, and the resulting death toll as well as the pressure on the NHS were sobering.

This analysis has likely led to the new, more extreme, efforts and extended measures announced by the UK government in an attempt to avoid a similar scenario.

“Although the case fatality ratio is significantly lower than SARS, the spread has been much, much greater, so that is concerning,” commented Professor Azra Ghani, chair in infectious disease epidemiology at Imperial College.

For the pharma industry, which is at the forefront of the development of therapeutics and vaccines against COVID-19, the new measures could also impact the daily routine at a crucial and unprecedented time.

“All companies should make appropriate contingency plans that may be required for further stages of the government's action plan and be prepared for the situation to last many months,” said Richard Torbett, chief executive of the ABPI.

“We are working closely with the Department of Health and the NHS on how our members can best support the Government as plans evolve and adapt to the changing situation,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

17th March 2020

From: Healthcare



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