James O'Brien despairs after caller compares Argentina and UK lockdown measures

22 May 2020, 12:53 | Updated: 22 May 2020, 13:05

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien was left in despair after this British caller, who had been travelling in Argentina, compared their stringent lockdown measures with the UK.

British caller Natalie told James while in Argentina quarantine was enforced extremely early on - after 31 national cases and one death.

James reflected that inevitably the UK media has been focusing on national progress through the crisis, but when a light is shone on other countries' strategies, he said, "I actually despair."

Natalie agreed, "I was frustrated from afar. I was listening to you in Buenos Aires, James, and I was hearing all of the British news. Meanwhile we were just given incredibly stringent rules which was stay at home.

"We weren't allowed to do exercise outside, we were only allowed to go to the pharmacy and get our shopping...as a result their cases are so low, so much lower than here."

Natalie questioned what had been going on in the UK when she got a repatriation flight back to be close to her family.

James O'Brien said he was in despair when comparing the two countries' responses
James O'Brien said he was in despair when comparing the two countries' responses. Picture: LBC

She told James she'd heard of picnics and barbecues: "I thought British people aren't stupid, surely they just haven't been given the right instructions...I was seeing all the numbers notch up and I don't understand why they didn't handle it sooner."

Natalie said that "nothing happened" when she landed at Heathrow and she walked straight through, unlike in Argentina where a man "dressed in a space suit" would take temperatures. She said she expected to get tested in the UK, and nothing had changed, although the airport had moved the relevant inbound services over to her terminal.

She then put herself in quarantine as she had been on a year away, but "nobody really had to."

The Argentinian President kept emphasising that citizens should "choose life", acknowledging that the economy would take a huge hit.

James reflected on the government's strategy: "I think to have faith tomorrow they've got to explain away yesterday....until they explain why everything has gone so badly so far, I don't know how they can ask us to have faith for the future."

The first consideration is the nation’s health, the UK government has said.

The government has stated their central aim is to "return to life as close to normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and fairly as possible...in a way that avoids a new epidemic, minimises lives lost and maximises health, economic and social outcomes."

Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible to book a test, ahead of the rollout of the test and trace service.

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