Coronavirus: Chief Scientific Adviser's response to claims government are not doing enough

13 March 2020, 08:35 | Updated: 13 March 2020, 08:50

By Adrian Sherling

The Government's chief scientific adviser is defending the measures taken to delay the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

People with even mild symptoms of Covid-19 - a new continuous cough or a temperature of over 37.8C are being urged to self-isolate for a week.

However, ministers have stopped short of following other countries in ordering school closures and the cancellation of social gatherings.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, Sir Patrick Vallance insisted that the action they've taken is far from a trivial change.

Sir Patrick Vallance defended the government's response to coronavirus
Sir Patrick Vallance defended the government's response to coronavirus. Picture: PA

He said: "This isn't an epidemic that is going to last a couple of weeks, it is going to go on for months.

"We need to make sure we do the right thing at the right stage to have the biggest impact.

"And the measures that were announced yesterday, which were that anybody with mild symptoms, which are a fever, a raised temperature or a cough, should stay at home. That's not a trivial change.

"That is going to have a big impact of many people staying at home for a week.

"It is one of the things that can have the biggest impact in terms of reducing the transmissability and ability of the virus to spread quickly across the population."

Other countries have taken far more draconian measures, such as Italy, who have closed schools, shops and travel from region to region.

But Sir Patrick insisted that it was "impossible" for a country to attempt to self-isolate its entire population.

He added: "When you've got it inside the country, it would be difficult to stop that spread."

The government adviser also explained the decision not to close schools, saying that once closed, they may have to stay closed for months and that would have a huge impact on the country.

He said even with schools closed, children would still congregate together, so the impact would be reduced - and grandparents may be forced to look after them, which could put them at greater risk of catching Covid-19.

More Nick Ferrari

See more More Nick Ferrari

'I won't be shopping in Sainsbury's again but I went back for my apology'

Mum slams supermarket after being told off by worker for breastfeeding in car park

'It's not govt policy to arm Taiwan': Foreign Affairs Committee Chair on Liz Truss' gaffe

'It's not govt policy to arm Taiwan': Foreign Affairs Committee Chair on Liz Truss' gaffe

Ben Wallace said Putin was a 'lunatic'

Putin a 'lunatic with small man syndrome' says minister as PM blasts 'toxic masculinity'

Russian invasion of Ukraine made Nato 'look again' at military capability, says defence chief

Russian invasion of Ukraine made Nato 'look again' at military capability, says defence chief

There's an 'ethical and political vacuum in No10', says former chief of staff

There's an 'ethical and political vacuum in No10', says former chief of staff

Nick Ferrari grilled Priti Patel on her Rwanda migrant plan.

Rwanda migrant plan is not 'appalling' but 'should be a deterrent', Priti Patel tells LBC

Exclusive
Lord Bilimoria, outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) speaks to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

'Reduce taxes now': Outgoing CBI chief calls on Rishi to slash 'highest taxes in 70 years'

Grant Shapps has criticised the RMT leader Mick Lynch.

Rail strike called under 'false pretences' by RMT's '1970s union baron' boss, says Shapps

Ofgem chief warns price cap hike 'could be more' than predicted £800

Ofgem chief warns price cap hike 'could be more' than predicted £800

Exclusive
The chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy has told LBC the industry can be run more effectively with fewer staff.

'Steam age' railway can be run more effectively with fewer staff, rail boss says

Rail strikes will cause "misery for millions"

'Driving unrest and stoking unrealistic expectations': Minister slams RMT ahead of strikes

'What's the point of advisors?!': Nick Ferrari baffled by resignation of Lord Geidt

'What's the point of advisors?!': Nick Ferrari baffled by resignation of Lord Geidt

The minister was speaking to LBC 's Nick Ferrari

Minister calls on Mayor of London to drop congestion charge on rail strike days

Nick reacts to the cancellation of the Rwanda flight

'Who runs Britain?': Nick Ferrari slams 'lefty lawyers' for 'holding UK hostage'

Exclusive
High Court judge has ruled Archie's treatment should be stopped and his life support turned off

'He won't give up': Archie Battersbee's mum vows to fight ruling to end son's life

RMT boss can't rule out general strike and warns 'rich have never been richer'

RMT chief doesn't rule out general strike and says 'rich have never been richer'