U.K. Scientist Slams Boris Johnson: ‘Earlier Lockdown Would Have Halved Death Toll’

Couples kept apart by lockdown restrictions could be reunited and some grandparents will be able to hug their grandchildren from Saturday under plans set out by Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister’s plan for “support bubbles” will allow adults living alone or single parents to mix with one other household.

They would then be allowed to interact as though they were one household, spending time together indoors, not having to follow the two-metre rule and would be allowed to stay overnight.

As the latest move to ease England’s coronavirus restrictions was announced, an expert who had advised the Government suggested that imposing the lockdown a week earlier in March could have halved the death toll.

Britain has the world’s second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths, at more than 41,000. Including cases where the coronavirus was suspected but not confirmed by a test, the total is over 50,000 people dead.

Officials admitted the support bubble measure announced by the Prime Minister was not going to benefit everyone but was targeted at those who had been left isolated by the lockdown restrictions.

It could allow children in single-parent households to see one set of grandparents.

A grandparent living alone would be allowed to visit the house of their child and grandchildren.

But the move would not allow a couple to visit both parents as neither household would comprise a single adult.

At the Downing Street briefing, the Prime Minister said: “We are making this change to support those who are particularly lonely as a result of lockdown measures.”

Prof Ferguson, from Imperial College London, told the Commons Science and Technology Committee the actions which saw a lockdown finally imposed on March 23 were based on what was known about the virus at the time.

He said: “The epidemic was doubling every three to four days before lockdown interventions were introduced.

“So, had we introduced lockdown measures a week earlier, we would have reduced the final death toll by at least a half.

“So whilst I think the measures, given what we knew about this virus then in terms of its transmission and fatality, were warranted, certainly had we introduced them earlier we would have seen many fewer deaths.”

Prof Ferguson’s modelling of the infection was instrumental in the lockdown being introduced but he later quit the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) panel advising ministers after flouting the restrictions.

Asked about Prof Ferguson’s claim, Mr Johnson said “all such judgments will need to be examined in the fullness of time.”

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