UK was "acting from a point of ignorance" in early stages of pandemic, says pilot

5 August 2020, 15:34

Pilot believes "ignorant" approach to coronavirus led to rapid outbreak

By Seán Hickey

This caller relived the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and argued that ignorance to the virus led to the spread.

A report from the Home Affairs Select Committee found that leaving borders open during the early stages of the pandemic led to the UK being hit much worse than it would have been if quarantine was introduced.

David is a pilot from Torquay and was of the view that the slow government response was to blame more than the airline industry. He told Ian Payne that "sheer ignorance" was behind the shocking impact of the virus.

He went back to the beginning of 2020 when the pandemic was in its early stages. During this time, he told Ian "all of us thought this was simply a Chinese issue," as business wasn't affected detrimentally.

He and his colleagues thought at that time "in Europe and the rest of the western world we should crack on as normal."

This pilot insisted that "sheer ignorance" was to blame for the poor pandemic response
This pilot insisted that "sheer ignorance" was to blame for the poor pandemic response. Picture: PA

He "noticed a step-change in the rhetoric," when President Trump shut the door to Europe, but very little changed in the UK's response.

David noted that when things changed drastically in Italy and Spain and the conversation began on whether to limit travel to these countries "we were already far too late," adding that "we were acting from a point of ignorance."

The pilot told Ian that "signs changed pretty much on a week by week basis," in UK airports and although the situation around the virus was changing, the reactive response was the issue, as government should have been more proactive.

He added that very little would have changed in terms of affecting the aviation industry as passengers at the time were "pretty much all key working personnel," and people travelling for business and pleasure has completely dropped off.

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Commenting on the report, a Government spokesperson said:

“The Home Affairs Select Committee are incorrect in their assertions. All of our decisions throughout the pandemic have been guided by the science, with appropriate measures introduced at the right time to keep us all safe.

“And with passengers 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. 

“Therefore, as the virus was brought under control here, border measures were introduced on June 8 to protect public health and help avoid a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS.”