The UK's relatively poor performance compared to EU countries makes it difficult to claim that the government's strategy was effective.
Claim ID 666e6312
The UK's relatively poor performance compared to EU countries makes it difficult to claim that the government's strategy was effective.On August 5, 2020, a group of MPs of the Home Affairs committee in the UK, issued a statement in a report saying a lack of border measures earlier in the pandemic was a ‘serious mistake’ and that ministers underestimated the risk of coronavirus infections being imported from Europe rather than Asia. The MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee had stated that it was wrong not to tell people returning to the UK from Spain during February and March, that they should quarantine for 14 days.
Between January and mid-March, travelers from designated high-risk countries, including China, Iran, and Italy, but not Spain, were issued non-mandatory guidance to self-isolate for 14 days. The guidance had been withdrawn on March 13. The MPs criticized the decision not to include Spain on the early list. The report states there is evidence that thousands of new infections were brought in from continental Europe in the ten days between the withdrawal of guidance and the introduction of lockdown on March 23. This likely contributed to the rapid increase in the spread of the virus in mid-March and to the overall scale of the outbreak in the UK.
The government has denied these allegations. Media reports quoted a government spokesperson as saying that the home affairs committee is incorrect in its assertions. The spokesperson said all decisions throughout the pandemic had been guided by science, with appropriate measures introduced at the right time to keep everyone safe. With passenger numbers significantly reduced, the scientific advice was clear that quarantine measures for those entering the country from abroad would be most effective when the UK has a lower level of infection, she added.
According to recent research by the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium – which comprises of NHS organizations, public health agencies, and academic partners, including the universities of Oxford and Cambridge – Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands were the top five sources of imported cases of infections.
The UK government has been criticized for its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Questions have also been raised about alleged delays on the part of the government in purchasing essential equipment and tests, for mixed messages about public health practices, and a lag behind its neighbors in implementing social distancing, test and trace systems, and other restrictions and resources. The UK went into lockdown on March 23 after a scientific study by modelers at Imperial and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicted that 510,000 people could die if the government did not take stringent measures. In the key measure of excess mortality, the UK has performed consistently poorly compared to other EU countries, with England having the highest excess mortality in Europe for the period of January to June 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.