John Hopkins medicine

Delayed Self-Isolation for Coronavirus in the UK is a Mistake

Although not as harshly hit as some of our European neighbours, the UK is facing increasingly growing infection rates of covid19, the novel coronavirus that has brought the likes of a China to its knees.

As of 16th March, the official number of infected people stands at 1,543 although the actual figure is likely much higher.

Whilst other countries have implemented strict procedures to combat the disease, the UK seems to be lagging behind in this regard. School closures and quarantine procedures have been implemented for the likes of Italy and Spain but the UK government seems reluctant to impose these changes.

According to the health Secretary Mathew Hancock, over 70’s will be asked to self-isolate within the next few weeks. But why the delay? We know from infection statistics that the elderly are one of the most vulnerable groups. It seems illogical to delay self-isolation for this group because the continued spread of disease in the UK is pretty much guaranteed at this point.

I see it everywhere. large public protests, people gathering for fun runs, and news articles of infected patients breaking protocol and travelling while infected. The spread of this disease is inevitable in today’s climate. Only China has started to experience a plateau in infectivity. And look at the steps they took. City wide quarantine, burning deceased corpses, even allegedly trapping people in their homes (there are numerous videos of this online).

Not enough is being done in the UK to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it seems the government is largely adopting a reactive stance as opposed to a proactive one — and that could prove detrimental.

The situation is dire, therefore it demands strict action, if the world health organisation declaring this disease as a pandemic isn’t enough of a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.

If it were up to me, anyone over the age of 70 would already be in quarantine. Is this overkill? Perhaps. But it would certainly diminish the death toll of the virus as the elderly seem to be among the most vulnerable. And let’s face it, it’s better to be safe than sorry. What’s the harm in staying inside for a few months as opposed to potential death: it’s a no brainer.

Another vulnerable group that seems to be being somewhat ignored are the immunocompromised. People with pre-existing conditions are constantly appearing among those who are unfortunate enough to die as a result of contracting Covid-19, so measures need to be taken to ensure their safety, and yet, advice from the government specifically in regards to the immunocompromised seems largely absent.

For most of these people, again, self-isolation is the answer. Any of these people working in busy customer-facing environments, or even taking public transport, are interacting with hundreds of people and dirty surfaces every day. It only takes 1 unlucky interaction to get infected. And being so vulnerable they require additional protection.

Understandably, this can be rather problematic taking away such large volumes of manpower from the workplace, but this is the 21st century, we have the means to conduct much of this work from home. The remote work industry has undergone exponential growth in recent years. In a world more interconnected than ever undertaking work from home is highly feasible — all it takes is an employer to embrace it in most instances, and coronavirus is enough of a motivator.

To keep death rates low and to ensure that the NHS is not overwhelmed, both of these vulnerable groups need to be quarantined immediately. Perhaps this would prevent the need for more drastic nationwide procedures such as the global quarantine in Italy. There’s no knowing for sure. But one thing is certain in my mind, we need to act now before it’s too late.

Update** Breaking news. As of finishing this post, Boris Johnson has declared new guidelines moving forward. He has encouraged all UK citizens to avoid any unnecessary contact to mitigate the spread of the virus. That means no school closures, no self-isolating the elderly, and no self-isolating the immunocompromised. One can’t help but think that he is still dragging his heels.





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#17 • A Healthy Dose of Healthcare News • February 5, 2021

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Alex Horscroft

Alex Horscroft

I write about anything that piques my interest.

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