The government is failing the British public in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic with conflicting advice coming from scientists, the health secretary, and “anonymous Number 10 sources”.
Earlier this week, Boris Johnson held a press conference where he called on the general public to self-isolate if they thought they might be infected with the novel coronavirus, but refused calls to suspend large gatherings or close public spaces. Stood between the UK’s two leading scientists, Johnson claimed his policies were designed flatten the epidemic curve or “squash the sombrero” and protect the British population.
However, other countries across the world have started to impose severe measure such as closing their borders (Germany), quarantining all arrivals (New Zealand), mandate everyone stays at home except for trips to the pharmacy or grocers (Italy) and close all bars and restaurants (France) to reduce the spread of the virus. By contrast, the UK’s response appears insufficient, but the science is far from certain.
Whilst government policy remains to keep the UK open for business, businesses across the country have decided not to follow Downing Street advice and suspend operations. National sporting league fixtures and international sports matches have been suspended and a number of companies are implementing measures to allow employees to work from home.
The public have become increasingly concerned about the government’s policy of creating a “herd immunity” amongst the population, which worst-case-scenario estimations could leave tens or hundreds of thousands of people dead. Meanwhile, the government has seemingly briefed three contradictory policies. As public opinion soured on Johnson’s “herd immunity” policy that from the outside looks like it was created to protect the economy over British lives, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has tried to assure the public in an initially paywalled article for the Telegraph that the government is instead trying to protect them and the NHS and herd immunity was not in fact the policy. Meanwhile “anonymous Downing Street source” Dominic Cummings has been floating alternative policy proposals indirectly through private briefings with political lobby journalists like Robert Peston that would be as draconian as those seen elsewhere, but without official confirmation that they may be real.