BBC QT: Surprising way Britain could avoid coronavirus lockdown revealed by ex-Minister

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The strategy was outlined by Michael Portillo who held a number of Government posts under Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Due to the coronavirus pandemic last night’s Question Time had a virtual audience, drawn from Coventry, who submitted their questions via webcam.

Panellists were spread apart from each other in order to maintain social distancing.

Mr Portillo argued the UK is going to end up shielding the elderly and vulnerable whilst allowing younger people to continue with their lives.

He said: “I feel sure we’re not going back to total lockdown.

“What was quite effective in controlling the virus was total lockdown but if I’m right and we’re not going back to that, and partial lockdown seems to be relatively ineffective, then what that implies is we’re going to live with levels of the virus.

“Now what we know is the virus is much more lethal for certain age groups for certain age groups and certain sorts of people and much less lethal for others.

“So I think there will eventually emerge a difference of policy towards people of different age groups and different vulnerabilities which will mean younger people will be encouraged to go back to work and older people will be protected.”

Statistics show coronavirus is significantly more deadly on average for older people and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes.

New tiered lockdown measures for England are expected to be announced within days as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge.

This is expected to force pubs and restaurants to close or become takeaway only in the worst hit areas.

In Scotland bars and restaurants in the central belt will have to close on Friday for a two week “circuit breaker” lockdown.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned Britain is facing a “perilous moment” in the ongoing pandemic.

On Thursday Britain recorded 17,540 new coronavirus cases, an increase from 14,162 the previous day.

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Across the country another 77 people were confirmed to have died from COVID-19.

Professor John Edmunds, who sits on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), warned hospitals could be overwhelmed unless action is taken.

He said: “In the north of England now, we are not that far away from the health service being stretched.

“Because even if we turn the epidemic around now, infections that occur today won’t go to hospital for another week or two.”

On Question Time Mr Portillo explained how he believes the vulnerable can be protected from coronavirus.

He said: “The protection of older people will be partly I think in the hands of individuals so if you’re going to visit your elderly parents you’ll want to make sure maybe you’ve been tested, maybe you’ve been quarantined for some days.

“And at some levels it will be institutional. So where for example young and old meet is in care homes, well young people who go to work in care homes, who have a social life outside, they’re going to have to be tested on a daily basis.

“We’ve absolutely got to make sure we maintain that frontier.

“So I think, though I don’t believe this is being talked about very much, we are going to see the emergence of a strategy that looks very different to the strategy we’ve come from.”

Britain has recorded more COVID-19 deaths and cases than any other European country.

 

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