British scientists have warned that up to 250,000 people will die in the UK as a result of the coronavirus outbreak unless more draconian measures are adopted to protect the population. The Imperial College Covid-19 response team – which has been advising ministers – said that even with the ‘social distancing’ plans set out by the Government, the health system will be ‘overwhelmed many times over’.
In its latest report, it said the only ‘viable strategy’ was a Chinese-style policy of ‘suppression’ involving the social distancing of the entire population. It said such measures would need to be maintained potentially for months until an effective vaccine became available.
The stark warning came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled unprecedented peacetime measures on Monday to try to control the spread of Covid-19. They were announced as the death toll of people with coronavirus in the UK reached 55. By the next day, 12 more, aged 45 to 93 died. Johnson called on people to stay away from pubs, clubs and theatres and to avoid all non-essential contacts and travel.
"Covid-19 presents the National Health Service with the greatest challenge it has faced since its creation," NHS chiefs have said.
All non-urgent NHS operations will be postponed for three months and private hospital beds will be purchased "in bulk" to drastically free up resources, a letter sent to all NHS Trusts from Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, revealed.