THE UK went into lockdown on March 23 and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries has sinced warned that Britain's coronavirus restrictions could last for six months.
From how long the lockdown will last to if we're able to beat Covid-19, we answer the questions the nation is asking.
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WHAT IS BRITAIN DOING?
Boris Johnson initially followed a plan of “herd immunity”. The idea is that if enough people build up immunity to the virus they protect those who are not immune, acting as a firewall.
This is why although roughly 5 per cent of people cannot be vaccinated against measles, they are protected by the 95 per cent who are.
Due to its “reproduction rate” around two thirds of Brits would need to be immune to coronavirus to stop its spread with this method. But the PM U-turned on this plan when it was estimated to get to that figure 250,000 would die.
Instead Britain is now following the example of China which has halted the spread of the disease by using a lockdown. The idea is to slow down the spread by drastically limiting how much Brits move around and have contact with each other.
It aims to get the numbers to a manageable rate that does not swamp the National Health Service and throw the country into chaos.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS A LOCKDOWN?
In China, where the virus started, strict lockdown rules have massively reduced the transmission. There are occasionally new cases in Wuhan, the origin of the pandemic, but most new reports in China are from returning citizens. Singapore is seen as another leading light on lockdowns and in general Asian countries have curtailed the spread with strict curfews.
Europe has started to follow the example, to prevent already stretched health services being overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of coronavirus patients.
Italy has surpassed China as having the most deaths from coronavirus with over 10,000 to date. The country struggled as the virus was already widespread when they first detected it.
Spain is also suffering badly with over 6,500 deaths in total – only second behind Italy worldwide.
In all countries the lockdown does appear to have started to slow the increase in deaths and cases, but it is too early to say conclusively.
Sweden stands out as shunning shutdowns in favour of public information programmes, but a sudden spike in cases last week has caused concern they may have miscalculated.
Germany has also taken a slightly different route, investing heavily in testing to monitor the disease.
It means that, although they have three times as many cases as Britain, they have half as many deaths and have only recently introduced lockdown measures.
World Health Organization (WHO) expert advisor David Heymann told The Sunday Times: "The jury is still out as to which strategy or strategies work best, but underlying them all is the need to get populations to collaborate with the outbreak response and understand how to protect themselves and others."
IS BRITAIN'S LOCKDOWN WORKING?
Experts are waiting to see indicators that the epidemic is slowing down but Professor Mark Woolhouse, an infectious disease specialist at Edinburgh University, said: “This is unlikely to become apparent in under three weeks."
A slowdown is not measured as a reduced number of deaths, but a smaller rise day-on-day.
The key target for Britain’s lockdown is to stop the NHS being overwhelmed by “flattening the curve”.
So far the health service is coping, but with the peak expected within weeks it is still too early to say.
In Asia it has been successful because governments have managed to persuade the population to isolate and wear masks if they cough or sneeze. The challenge for the government is to persuade Brits that the lockdown and social distancing must be taken seriously, otherwise it will not be effective.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER LOCKDOWN?
The lockdown aims to eventually stop the rise of cases and see a decrease in both the number testing positive each day and the number of deaths. Once this happens countries seek to relax the lockdown.
But if the lockdown is relaxed too fast the cases could rocket again. China's initial success in "flattening the curve" of infection means they are now looking to unlock industry to get the economy moving.
Prof Heymann said: "They are doing it very cautiously to see what happens. Then they will begin to unlock other sectors if they see it's successful."
HOW CAN WE RETURN TO NORMAL SAFELY?
There are currently no antivirus therapies for coronavirus and it is estimated a vaccine will take 12 to 18 months to develop.
As economies will struggle to maintain a lockdown for that long, and Brits will struggle in isolation, the government will need to rely on a different tactic.
The preferred route is to conduct mass testing to determine who is immune and who is not. Those with immunity can then return to work and once two thirds have immunity Brits will be protected via herd immunity.
Britain is currently only carrying out 7,000 tests a day and is aiming to hit 10,000 a day.
But former PM Tony Blair yesterday called on the government to test “virtually everybody” as the faster route to get Britain back up and running.
The second requirement for easing lockdowns will be to safeguard against the cases arriving from outside Britain.
Prof Heymann said: "You need a good disease detection or surveillance system and a good outbreak response”.
But he warned if easing the lockdown doesn’t work “they might want to lock up again.”
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