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Frequent temperature checks to be part of "new normal" post-lockdown
5 May 2020, 15:51 | Updated: 5 May 2020, 16:03
The Asian model of disease control could be adopted in the UK post-lockdown to prevent future pandemics.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was chairing the Health Select Committee and shared the findings with Shelagh Fogarty. He told LBC that he was happy to report that there was "a lot of openness" at the hearing and has revealed a lot about how we can go forward from the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Hunt expressed "a degree of optimism that if we now pursue this South Korean strategy then we should be able to avoid a second wave if we do test, track and trace and maintain social distancing." The Conservative MP believed that the NHS app is the turning point in the UK's fight against coronavirus and will help us learn to live in a "new normal".
Shelagh wanted to know what was said about the UK's "lack of testing infrastructure" early in the fight and pointed out that the UK was relatively slow to react to the pandemic, pointing out that "we knew earlier on this was running amok."
Mr Hunt admitted that "Jenny Harries and Sir Patrick Vallance were open that we should have started testing earlier" and revealed that the "fundamental thing is that our pandemic preparations were geared around pandemic flu rather than SARS like virus", admitting failings in government as far back as when he was Health Secretary to prepare for the pandemic.
He noticed that "all countries that had experience of SARS and MERS did best" referencing the fightback of South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong against Covid-19. Going back to the UK's response, Mr Hunt pointed out that "you don't do test, track and tracing in flu pandemics" and this is how the UK was slow off the mark.
Shelagh moved onto the beginnings of test, track and trace in the UK, arguing that while we heard the government and scientific advisors saying that we didn't have the capacity to test, she asked "isn't role of govt that it second guesses and doesn't expect everything to happen as it did before?"
Mr Hunt felt as though the tide is changing in terms of foresight, stating that he's "expecting stricter border checks than we had before." Comparing operations in Asia to what we currently do in Europe.
"In Asia you can't get through airport without a temperature check" he said, adding that the same measures are in places that have higher people traffic, and if someone fails a temperature check they're taken away to be tested. He told Shelagh that this "may well be the new normal" and Brits should prepare for a culture shift in how we go about our daily lives.
Shelagh pointed out that some of the government's scientific advisors have been against test, track and trace in the past. She asked Jeremy Hunt why he is "confident they would say different now on temp checks?"
He told Shelagh he is sure these advisors will soon change their mind. Mr Hunt insisted that the "most important thing is to reduce risk" and at this moment in time, test, track and trace is the best strategy for the UK going forward.