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UK failures over Covid-19 will increase death toll, says leading doctor

A “collective failure” to appreciate the enormity of the coronavirus pandemic and enact swift measures to protect the public will lead to unnecessary deaths, according to a leading doctor who says the UK ignored clear warning signs from China.

Richard Horton, the Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, rounded on politicians and their expert advisers for failing to act when Chinese researchers first warned about a devastating new virus that was killing people in Hubei eight weeks ago.

The team from Wuhan and Beijing reported in January that the number of deaths was rising quickly as the virus spread in China. They urged the global community to launch “careful surveillance” in view of the pathogen’s “pandemic potential”.

Horton said nothing in the science had changed since January. “The UK’s best scientists have known since that first report from China that Covid-19 was a lethal illness. Yet they did too little, too late,” he said.

While the UK was now taking the right actions to quell the outbreak, Horton said, in due course “there must be a reckoning” where difficult questions would have to be asked and answered. “We have lost valuable time. There will be deaths that were preventable. The system failed,” he said.

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Source: The Guardian, 18 March 2020


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