Former WHO director Anthony Costello insisted the UK should have mass testing in communities and maintain a national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. Mr Costello argued South Korea had been very successful in doing these two things and can subsequently come out of lockdown. While speaking to LBC’s James O’Brien Mr Costello said: “What we are trying to do is to suppress transmission of this epidemic as quickly as possible and then get our economy going again.
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“This is so we have not got mass unemployment and all the rest.
“I would argue, as would many other public health people, that mass testing in communities as well as the national lockdown is a blunt instrument but combined that is the best way to go.”
Mr Costello added how a country should behave to stop the spread of a virus outbreak.
He said: “The first rule of an epidemic control, as the WHO would say, is test, test, test.
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“First you want to identify someone who is a case, someone who has the infection.
“Immediately you want to trace all or as many of the contacts they have had as possible and quarantine those people.”
The former WHO director then reflected on the success South Korea has had dealing with the virus.
He said: “In South Korea, they have set up mass testing, suppressed the epidemic and are now releasing lockdown.
“They would go and find a positive case, they would give the person an app on their phone and ask them to send in their symptoms twice a day and monitor if they are deteriorating.
“But they could also, through geo-location, monitor if they are staying in quarantine.
“That has worked very well there and they have done 410,000 tests and the UK is doing about 5,000 patients a day and a total of 7,000 tests a day.”
Tuesday night saw deputy chief scientific advisor Jenny Harries explain the UK could move towards ending the lockdown sooner with some key actions.
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She explained testing to see if people had already had coronavirus would better allow the Government to decide at what level they could relax lockdown measures.
She added this would allow the Government to understand how many people would need a vaccine for the disease in the future.
During the Tuesday briefing, she said: ” If we know how many people have already had it we can understand the proportion of the public who can still get it and that gives us the clue to a number of things.
“For example, if we are able to develop vaccines going forward we would know how many people we need to immunise.
“If we are going to take lockdown measures off we can make a model that shows we know this proportion of the population is still likely to get the disease.”
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