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Coronavirus lockdown may have to go further, says Midlands expert

By Richard Guttridge | Staffordshire | Health | Published: | Last Updated:

The coronavirus lockdown may have to go even further to slow the rate of cases and deaths in the UK, an expert has said.

Dr Arthur Hosie

Dr Arthur Hosie, a microbiologist at Staffordshire University, said there were "still too many people out" and that stricter measures might be necessary in the fight against Covid-19.

While many people are working from home, there has been confusion in some industries about whether workers still need to come in. Many construction projects are continuing despite the lockdown.

The Express & Star has also been told of numerous cases of workers not being given appropriate protective equipment.

Dr Hosie also said the UK should be further ahead in its fight against coronavirus but that mixed messages at the start of the lockdown had held things up.

He predicted restrictions on movement would be needed for months, but not necessarily in the form of a full lockdown currently in place.

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Like many other experts, Dr Hosie said widespread testing was absolutely essential to ending the lockdown, defeating the virus and returning to normality.

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Dr Hosie, a senior lecturer in biological and biomedical sciences and an expert on the behaviour of viruses, told the Express & Star: "I would have hoped to have seen more of a slow down (in deaths) by now. But it will take a two-week period before we see the full effects.

"I think we wasted the first few days of the lockdown. With mixed messaging it took longer for people to respond.

"It could have been done better. Unfortunately we might be a few days behind."

Dr Hosie said the lockdown would have to go beyond the initial three-week period set out by Boris Johnson, and possibly get tougher.

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The UK has been in lockdown for 10 days

"It's going to require a longer period," he said. "If we remove the lockdown too soon it could set us back and be counter-productive.

"I'm not sure we've done everything we've needed to do. I think there's still too many people out and about and too many people working.

"We have to better define what essential working is."

Dr Hosie echoed Nicola Sturgeon's comments this week she said normality might not return for six months.

But he said people shouldn't be scared that means the current lockdown will last that long.

Crucial

He said: "I'm not saying we're going to be in lockdown for six months. I think we might have some easing within a month but we need to see the numbers (of cases and deaths)."

Testing is crucial to answering some of these questions, Dr Hosie said, amid intense scrutiny and pressure on the Government.

"If we don't know what's happening in wider society we are not going to know the right time to do it.

"It's absolutely essential we have the data. We're fumbling a little bit in the dark with the current lockdown."

But he added: "Some are criticising the response but we are trying our best to make sure the tests are robust. Some other counties may have more lenient regulations.

The professor said coronavirus would serve as a wake-up call for global Governments

He said: "Perhaps governments of the world are not taking this as seriously as they should be.

Animals

"This virus is killing tens of thousands, it will be hundreds of thousands. If it was something as transmissible as Covid-19 combined with the deadliness of Mers or Sars it could have been a lot worse."

Dr Hosie also said the world would also have to consider its future relationship with animals, as "standing side by side with animals opens up the threat to humans".

He added: "This is an unprecedented situation that ultimately we were not prepared for."

There has been much discussion about whether the spread of the virus will slow down as the UK comes into summer.

Dr Hosie said: "It is something we hoped. It's not necessarily a myth we are just learning. We do not know this virus is going to respond.

"Cases of influenza, which is completely different, decreasing in the summer months is not unheard of.

"We might see a slight downturn in numbers but when talking about such large numbers of cases that might not be perceptible. We can't rely on that. We have to do what we can."

Dr Hosie said a vaccine was still likely to be between 12 and 18 months off and would "not be the solution to the current outbreak".

He said: "We must make sure we have testing of these vaccines. Are they safe, but more importantly do they work?

"Vaccines will not be the solution to the current outbreak. It will not come to an end because we have a vaccine, it will more likely come to an end because we have done what we can to control and contain the virus."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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