Coronavirus: ‘Focus must be on slowing the spread’
PUBLISHED: 16:58 14 March 2020
In his latest column, Ipswich Borough Council leader DAVID ELLESMERE discusses the right response to the coronavirus outbreak.
There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that coronavirus will be the worst public health crisis that most of us will have seen in our lives.
Although, at the time of writing, Suffolk has only seen one case it is inevitable that there will be many more.
The government has accepted that attempts to contain the virus in the UK have failed and the focus must now be on trying to slow the spread so it doesn't overwhelm our already overstretched health services.
I am pleased that the government appears to be taking a science-led approach to tackling coronavirus, in marked contrast to President Trump in the US.
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However it must be acknowledged that scientists have different views on the appropriate way forward.
Some don't believe the government are doing enough and it is undoubtedly the case that many other countries, based on the recommendations of their own public health professionals, have introduced more stringent early measures.
The government needs to be completely transparent about the data it is using to inform its decisions and explain why it believes its strategy is better that adopted by other countries at a similar stage to the UK.
The Budget was massively influenced by coronavirus. Some of the measures, such as making it easier for self-employed people and those on zero-hours contracts to get financial help if sick, were welcome and perhaps should be made permanent even when this crisis is over.
Measures to help independent retailers cope with the inevitable loss of income when infections are at their height were also necessary but it remains to be seen whether they truly match the scale of the problem.
One concern is that these measures are focussed on small independents. There was no specific help for large national retailers but they were facing the biggest problems even before the crisis and are leaving the biggest gaps on our high streets. There needs to be help for them too to weather the coming storm.
This is a fast moving situation and changing all the time but we all need to follow whatever the government's current instructions are to slow the spread of the virus.
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