London:The UK could end up being one of the worst-hit European countries in the coronavirus pandemic, a senior scientific adviser to the government warned on Sunday.
Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust who sits on the British government’s scientific advisory committee SAGE, said Britain is facing the highest death toll in the region as further waves of the deadly virus cannot be ruled out.
The numbers in the UK have continued to go up. I do hope we are coming close to the number of new infections reducing. But yes the UK is likely to be one of the worst if not the worst affected country in Europe, Farrar told the BBC.
As of Saturday, the death toll in the UK stands at 9,875, increasing rapidly day on day. The death toll in neighbouring European countries stands at 19,468 in Italy among the worst hit countries in the world, and Germany at 2,871.
Farrar said that Germany had introduced testing at a remarkable rate which helped it gain a critical six to eight weeks to prepare its health system for the pandemic.
It is still early in this epidemic. What is critical for Germany is they continue that testing and isolation. Inevitably the UK will learn lessons from how Germany has managed to control the epidemic to date, he said.
In reference to the remarks, UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma stressed that countries were on “different trajectories” and reiterated that the strict social distancing measures will have an impact on the death toll curve.
“Different countries are at different stages of this cycle. What we have done with the advice that we have now set out to people, to stay at home, is precisely because we want to make sure that we have a flattening of the curve, that infection rates aren’t going up, and ultimately people’s lives are being saved,” he said.
The senior Indian-origin Cabinet minister was also forced to apologise for persistent concerns within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) over the lack of sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for its staff to be able to treat the highly infectious deadly virus.
I’m incredibly sorry that people feel they are not able to get this equipment. It’s self-evident that we need more PPE,” he said.
His apology came a day after a leading doctors’ union, the British Medical Association (BMA), had highlighted the shortage of the crucial equipment on the NHS frontlines which was putting medics’ lives at risk.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the Indian-origin BMA Council Chair, said: We are dealing with an unknown, highly-infectious, and potentially deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of several healthcare workers, including 11 doctors in the UK.
It is absurd that the people trained to treat this disease are the ones who are not being appropriately protected and without them, we face real disaster.
It led to pledges by the government to continue its focus on driving PPE supplies to the frontlines.