Coronavirus UK: Four reasons Britain is well placed to minimise the harmful effects

Coronavirus has become a dystopian nightmare, with mass quarantines, rising death tolls and frenzied stockpiling giving the outbreak an almost apocalyptic feel.  In the wake of the Italian government placing its entire population under quarantine, the spectre of a similar response looms large over the UK. Despite the palpable sense of doom and gloom, Professor Ian Goodfellow, Professor of Virology at Cambridge University, is defiantly optimistic.


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Speaking to the, Professor Goodfellow outlined four reasons why the UK is well-placed to minimise the harmful effects of the coronavirus.

Here are four reasons to have cause for optimism:

An efficient healthcare system

Part of the struggle to contain the outbreak in Italy may be down to the fact that the healthcare system is divided into regions, which has created a more fragmented response.

The UK’s healthcare system, on the other hand, is integrated, allowing for a more coordinated response to the crisis, explained Professor Goodfellow.

The NHS is also free at the point of service, so there is no cost for an individual to turn up and get tested, a major obstacle in many countries, he said.

World-beating welfare system

As Professor Goodfellow explains, the UK welfare system can compensate people who do not work for turning up and getting tested, incentivising an active engagement in slowing down the rate of transmission.

A globally respected scientistic community

As he explained, the UK is home to very experienced scientists who are running clinical trials in the race to develop a vaccine.

Pioneering research also gets financial backing from figures like Jeremy Farrah, director of UK-based medical research foundation Wellcome, he noted.

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A clued-up society

“We have a well-educated society who in general understand what infectious diseases are and understand that you need to take the advice seriously,” said Professor Goodfellow.

As he explained, this is often taken for granted but plays a crucial role in stanching the spread.

He said: “One of the factors that contributed to the problems associated with the control of ebola outbreak in West Africa is that much of the population really didn’t understand the messages that had been given to them, did’t really understand what the virus was.”

So what does Dr Professor advocate we do to minimise the impact of the outbreak?

“If we implement small changes in our behaviour now this gives us the best chance of minimising the impact of this outbreak,” he said.


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The most important measure is to maintain good hygiene standards.

According to the NHS, you should wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.

Other key hygiene tips include:

  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

It is also important to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean, warns the health site.

What should I do if I think I have it?

If you recognise reported the symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing, the first step you should take is to call the NHS 111.

The NHS 111 is an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.

As the NHS explains, you should avoid your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as this could increase the rate of transmission among the general public.

If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).

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