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UK needs tougher action to prevent deaths - UCL experts

Monday March 23rd, 2020

A letter being dispatched to one and a half million people will only reach a fraction of those at significant risk from Covid-19, according to an expert analysis today.

Researchers at UCL, London, said the NHS England letter would reach 2.7% of the population – but, according to their estimates, 20% are at risk.

According to the analysis, based on health records of 3.8 million records, current policies will lead to at least 35,000 excess deaths a year.

"More stringent" measures are needed, the researchers say, following a weekend in which the public were picture queuing to walk up Mount Snowdon. The Times today publishes a blistering cartoon showing a queue of caravans transporting the Covid-19 virus around the country.

They point out that disruption to health services and social economic life may also contribute to mortality rates.

Researcher Dr Amitava Banerjee, a cardiologist, said: “Cardiovascular disease, for example, is not on the government list of conditions announced today. But in this paper, we show that the one year mortality for people with cardiovascular disease is 6%; and for people with two or more underlying health conditions is 11%. To date, only people with single disease risks have been included in the high-risk group, and not those with multiple diseases who are at a greater risk.

“We urge the government to be transparent about how extremely vulnerable groups are identified. If it is on the basis of high background mortality risk (pre-COVID-19), then the data and methods should be made available for public scrutiny.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday: "If people can't make use of parks and playgrounds responsibly, if they can't do it in a way that observes the two-metre rule then of course we are going to have to look at further measures.

"The general principle should be that we should all as far as we possibly can stay home, protect our NHS and thereby save lives."

The Scottish government reported queues of people heading for the Highlands and Islands, threatening to impose restrictions on ferry travel.

In Belfast, a respiratory team issued their own video, that rapidly went viral, stating "If you choose to stay at home, you will save lives."

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Respiratory | Traveller Health | UK News

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