COUNTRIES like China and South Korea are slowly resuming some sort of normal life after bringing the coronavirus epidemic under control – following weeks of lockdown.
And now experts say the success these countries have experienced since the outbreak first emerged may hold lessons for the UK.
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Dr David Nabarro, from a special envoy of the World Health Organisation (WHO), pointed to the fact the Chinese Government has been isolating people with symptoms of coronavirus away from their families in separate facilities to beat the bug.
And he claimed that if the UK introduced stricter measures like this when it comes to self-isolating, we may also be able to rapidly slow the spread of the deadly bug.
Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Dr Nabarro said: "It’s really important that we study the experience of countries that have been able to contain Covid outbreaks and see what parts we can replicate elsewhere…
"We’re hearing from colleagues who have been working not just in China, but in other countries like South Korea and like Singapore that have really managed to get life working again despite the presence of this virus.
"They say if you don’t separate people from their households and if you don’t actually put them into a place where they can be isolated and cared for there is too much chance for the virus to move around.
"You can do it without mass testing…if you’ve got the symptoms then you presume that it’s Covid.
"I have members of my family who have got the symptoms and I’ve been very clear with them – you’ve got Covid, you must isolate.
"I think that’s what we’re going to have to do in most of the world."
Dr Nabarro also suggested the fact the UK and the rest of Europe have been "half-hearted" when it comes to self-isolating may be behind the staggering advance of the disease there.
"Isolate means isolate," he said.
Isolate means isolate
"You have to do it properly and if you are half-hearted or if you don’t do it at all and you simply rely on people using their own judgement, big mistakes happen and that’s how we get those explosive outbreaks that we’ve got in Europe and the US at this time."
Despite this, Dr Nabarro admitted that with this kind of "rapidly accelerating outbreak" it's very easy to look back with hindsight and say things should have done differently.
In particular, he defended colleagues from Public Health England (PHE) and the Government who have faced a backlash for being "too slow" when it comes to testing coronavirus in the UK compared to other countries.
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"Honestly this is a series of battles and it’s a massive global war quite honestly – and one of the problems is its a new enemy that we don’t know," Dr Nabarro added.
"And so what I actually say to everybody is, yes, there will be things you feel are not right and, yes, we have to educate to get this right but all of us are working on this as hard as we possibly can.
"Every single person I know in public health is just on overtime. And some of the things that need to be in place can’t be done as quick as want them to be.
"We want every health worker to have an ample supply of protective equipment, we want every every health worker, at risk person and symptomatic person to have virus testing, we’d like all the Public Health services to have facilities to isolate people with symptoms.
"But because this is such a rapidly escalating problem, we are playing catch up and we will only get ahead of it if we work solidly together in our communities."
The UK's death toll today surged to 2,961 with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the country standing at 33,718.
The UK has been slow to test in comparison to other countries – with less than 5,000 daily swabs being carried out until March.
On the other hand, the South Korean Government have carried out 400,000 tests and got Covid-19 under control.
And Germany are now aiming to reach nearly 200,000 tests every day.
Downing Street have now suggested the UK's target of 25,000 daily checks may not be met until "mid to late April".
Droves of politicians have slammed the Government's approach, with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said the efforts so far were an "embarrassment'".
Michael Gove this week said the UK had to go "further, faster” to increase the ability to carry out coronavirus tests to deal with the outbreak.
And while the UK previously had a target of 25,000 daily checks, the Minister for the Cabinet Office said the lack of availability of crucial chemicals which are needed in the testing process was a 'critical constraint' on this.
He claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock were now working together to try to source the globally in-demand material that Britain needs.
The finger-prick test, which detects antibodies to the virus in the blood, will be able to determine if someone has or has already had Covid-19.
However, the Government made it clear that those tests will not be available for the public to buy and they will be prioritise NHS staff and key workers – like doctors and nurses – to enable people to go back to work.
Users or pharmacists will have to prick a finger and place a drop of blood on a stick, which looks like a home pregnancy test.
Some will give an immediate result and others must be returned to a lab. Results will be recorded on medical records.
Currently, Public Health England is only testing patients for Covid-19 in hospital with nasal swabs.
This test only shows whether someone has the virus – and not whether they have already recovered from it.
However, the new at-home test would reveal if someone has had the bug and built up immunity, and is therefore unlikely to catch it again.
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