"We're blinded by the people we're not testing," says infectious disease expert

8 September 2020, 11:52 | Updated: 8 September 2020, 12:01

By Fiona Jones

"We're blinded by the people we're not testing, we're only firefighting": infectious disease expert Dr Bharat Pankhania explains what the UK must do to avoid another spike.

Infectious disease expert Dr Bharat Pankhania told Nick, "I hope we won't have another national lockdown as we haven't got the stamina for it.

"We didn't succeed with the first lockdown...[because] our cases went down but they didn't go down, down and down and remain so low that we could start opening up.

"We've never had a proper full lockdown, it was almost partial, and as a result we've maintained a background level of cases, high enough for us to remain concerned."

Nick asked whether the expert was suggesting we stay in lockdown "forever" to which he replied that the country instead "needs to get its act together."

"We&squot;re blinded by the people we&squot;re not testing," says infectious disease expert Dr Bharat Pankhania
"We're blinded by the people we're not testing," says infectious disease expert Dr Bharat Pankhania. Picture: LBC

Dr Bharat said: "If we enabled local testing and local contact tracing, we'd be in a much better place. For example, we are partially testing. People can get on to the internet, book a test and then drive to a test centre and then get tested.

"So we are blinded by the people that we are not testing. If we don't know where the case rises are, we are not able to act until much later on.

"We're only firefighting rather than having the knowledge in advance and testing extensively, and then acting well before the rising tide appears."

Nick countered that children must go back to school which Dr Bharat agreed with: "This is why I am still pleading let us get our surveillance systems right. Get the local authorities, the local public health people, the local clinicians working on contact tracing, as well as enable them to undertake testing.

"Why can't you have a test at your general practice? Why do you have to go far away to a test centre?"