Jeremy Hunt lists the coronavirus measures UK should be adopting from Asia

17 April 2020, 15:12

By Fiona Jones

Former Health Secretary tells LBC which coronavirus prevention measures the UK should adopt from Asian countries.

Shelagh asked the former Health Secretary if the UK government plans to roll out wide-scale population testing for coronavirus, which has proven by Mr Hunt's own admission to be "international best practice."

Mr Hunt explained there are two types of population testing, the most effective one being that adopted by Germany and Korea, where "every single person who thinks they've got Covid or Covid symptoms gets a very quick test" as does everyone they've been near. Anyone found positive is isolated immediately.

"That has proven to be the most successful method internationally of keeping the deaths down, for example Germany has a third of our death rates...Korea has not had more than nine deaths on any one day."

This was something the UK started but "unfortunately" stopped on 12th March despite it being "the international best practice," said the former Health Secretary, "we are hoping to go back to that now."

He said the UK is "definitely" planning on population sampling, which involves tests being sent to "random parts of the country to see how much the virus is spreading."

Army officers in Taiwan spraying disinfectant on the road surfaces
Army officers in Taiwan spraying disinfectant on the road surfaces. Picture: PA

There are other examples of international best practice that the former Health Secretary admitted the UK should be adopting if possible, such as checking the temperature of people flying inbound to Britain.

"In Taiwan they kept the shops and restaurants and offices open but very regularly before you go into a shopping mall, you'll walk through a temperature machine and if it flashes red you'll be asked to go and do a test," said Mr Hunt.

The former Health Secretary posited that the fundamental reasons Asian countries have been "so much better than Europe and America" is because they have the memory of SARS, which was a very deadly virus back in 2003, and so they thought of coronavirus like SARS.

"They took measures very quickly. Whereas I think western scientists really felt this was more like a nasty flu virus and that's why these two sets of countries have very different responses.

"We have now learnt from what's happened in Asia...if we now implement what they've done in Korea and Taiwan and Singapore and Hong Kong, then hopefully we won't have to have another lockdown," Mr Hunt said.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals in the UK to 14,576, which has risen by 847 in a day.