Britain’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, has expressed regret over the UKs Covid-19 response in terms of testing and border quarantines.
Britain ended community testing on March 12th for lack of resources; resources were then focused on hospitals instead.
On testing, Sir Patrick when asked questions from MPs on the Commons Health Committee said:
“It’s clear you need lots of testing for this.”
“If we had managed to ramp testing capacity quickly, that would have been beneficial. For all sorts of reasons that didn’t happen.”
“It looks like early in March the UK got many different imports of the virus from different places, particularly from European countries, such as Spain and Italy.”
Only 273 passengers who arrived at the UK border from countries with high volumes of Covid-19 cases, such as China, Spain and Italy, were taken to quarantine centres.
In Heathrow for example, back in March when Covid-19 cases began to accelerate, there were no screening procedures for passengers incoming from China and other countries.
In contrast, Shanghai Pudong airport in China had thermal imaging equipment set-up on all major walkways within the airport to screen passengers for fever.
In early March, the UK was only able to test up to 2,000 people per day;
On this, Sir Patrick added “I’d be surprised if when we look back, we don’t think, yup, we could have done something different there.”
The focus in the UK has been on social distancing and the 2m rule;
On this, Sir Patrick said “essentially a minute at 2m contact is about the same risk of six seconds at 1m.”
In comparison, China did not have a 2m distancing rule but focused on the mandatory wearing of facemasks outside.
Sir Patrick also suggested that primary schools reopening may have a smaller risk of increasing Covid-19 infection rates as children were “less likely to cause onward transmission” due to not venturing out of their own households frequently.