Why UK shouldn't follow Spain in lifting lockdown, by public health expert

13 April 2020, 13:04 | Updated: 13 April 2020, 13:18

Spain is lifting its coronavirus lockdown today for non-essential workers - but this expert explained why that's not likely to be immediately followed in the UK.

It is now three weeks since Boris Johnson announced a lockdown in the UK and the government's chief scientists will meet tomorrow to discuss the next stage of the UK's plan to beat coronavirus.

As one expert warned that the UK's death toll could be the largest in Europe, Nick Ferrari spoke to Professor Martin McKee, a Professor of European Public Health, who said this country is not ready to lift lockdown yet.

Asked whether the lockdown could be lifted by the May bank holiday, Professor McKee said: "I'm not sure of the relevance of a bank holiday. The virus doesn't have a diary.

"There are mathematical and epidemiological criteria which we need to look at.

People in Spain queue for a supermarket
People in Spain queue for a supermarket. Picture: PA

"The first thing we have to look at is to ensure that we have really accurate data, which we don't. The reports are of the number of deaths reported in the last 24 hours, even though they may have taken place a week or more earlier.

"And we're not picking up the number of deaths in nursing homes for example - and some studies in other countries show about a third of all deaths may be occurring there. Nor are we picking up the deaths occurring at home without testing.

"We need to get the transmission rate down to less than one [one person infected per case] and we need to see the number of deaths declining, which they don't appear to be at the minute."

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On Spain's lockdown, he commented: "Their death rate is coming down at the moment, but there are significant concerns in Spain at the moment.

"It will be a very very limited return to work. Everybody will have to wear facemasks. They will have to keep their distance from each other.

"It's a courageous decision and it could go very well or very badly. It's a bit of a gamble.

"We do have the example of Sweden, where the authorities decided they wouldn't have the same degree of lockdown as other people did. And now they have a death rate which is three times that of Norway, Denmark or Finland."

Watch his full analysis at the top of the page.