WHO Covid-19 envoy warns virus will 'cause havoc' if public ignore guidelines

8 April 2020, 07:51

Dr David Nabarro the WHO special envoy on Covid-19
Dr David Nabarro the WHO special envoy on Covid-19. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A World Health Organisation special envoy on Covid-19 has warned if people do not take the virus seriously then "we'll be overwhelmed, not just in the UK, but everywhere."

Dr David Nabarro the WHO's special envoy on coronavirus told LBC's Nick Ferrari he was pleased to hear the increase in Covid-19 deaths is "starting to slow."

He warned that while cases had not yet reached the peak, the reduction in numbers was a "really good sign."

On Tuesday the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there were signs that the rates of new infections and new hospital admissions for Covid-19 were "flattening off".

But he added it would be another "week or so" before they could be sure, indicating lockdown measures would not be eased before then.

Currently, in the UK there have been 55,242 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 6,159 deaths.

Dr Nabarro said people needed to recognise "this virus is going to stick with us for the foreseeable future" and that people would have to "learn how to deal with new outbreaks as they appear all the time."

He said the experience of other countries like South Korea and Singapore was that nations must react rapidly as soon as a disease is seen in the community.

"We can't let these outbreaks go on building up as they have in different parts of Europe and the US."

When Nick Ferrari asked the expert his advice on easing the UK's lockdown measures, Dr Nabarro said it was essential that when businesses reopen there is still respect for physical distancing.

He told LBC his "gravest fear" around Covid-19 was that "countries and people don't take it seriously, it's not flu, it's such a horrible virus."

He said the damaged caused by Covid-19 was "enormous" and people needed to see the virus as a "common enemy" which people need to protect themselves against.

"If we don't take it seriously, and just treat it lightly, then we'll be overwhelmed, not just in the UK, but everywhere."

The doctor stressed people need to take Government guidelines seriously, otherwise, the virus will "cause havoc".