Coronavirus: Public have been ‘treated like children’

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The former president of the Faculty of Public Health has accused the government of wasting time in its response to coronavirus.

Professor John Ashton told talkRADIO that Boris Johnson should have convened the emergency Cobra committee “a month ago”. 

“What the Cobra should have been doing, with the Chief Medical Officer alongside and the advisers is on a day to day basis taking stock and looking ahead, looking round corners, seeing what's coming next and taking the public on that journey,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Professor Ashton added: “The public so far have been treated like children. The public need to be treated as co-partners.”

The UK today moved into its “delay phase” in dealing with the outbreak as the country’s 90th coronavirus case was confirmed.

WATCH: Doctor says people should stop panic buying 

This second stage of the four-step battle plan means measures to tackle coronavirus are being ramped up to delay its spread.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was now evidence of community transmission between people who had no connections to overseas cases or returning travellers.

He told MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee: “We have moved from a situation where we are mainly in contain, with some delay built in, to we are now mainly delay.”

But despite the escalation, advice remains in place not to panic, as retailers report stockpiling of toilet roll and hand sanitizer.

Professor Ashton said “It’s not a question of panicking; it’s a question of being prepared, being alert, looking forward and thinking through what we should be doing.”

Dr Laurence Buckman, former chairman to the BMA GP's committee, told Julia: “Nobody should be panic buying anything because all you do is deplete stocks for everybody else.”

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