Experts call for ‘Asia style’ lockdown with tougher measures

A top academic has called for tough new measures uses in China and the far east to halt the new Covid strain.

Christina Pagel, professor of operational research at University College London said Boris Johnson should start thinking about imposing "mandatory isolation" like the Chinese government brought in.

She claimed hotels which have been left empty because of lockdown measures could be used to keep to isolate those infected from the general population.

Pagel also suggested Vietnam-style quarantine centres could be used to isolate anyone entering the UK for 14 days, according to the Mirror.

The country, which has had just 35 Covid deaths in a population of 97 million, brought in early travel restrictions, shut schools for months and started a vast contact-tracing operation.

Her call for tougher measures has been backed by Independent Sage member and former WHO director Anthony Costello. He said places of worship and nurseries should be closed with compulsory mask-wearing in public brought in.

Independent Sage member, Prof Deenan Pillay, said hospital capacity was at risk "due to a year of sub-optimal response from Government".

In parts of London, one in 15 people is thought to be infected and leaked documents say the capital’s intensive care units could be overwhelmed within days.

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The Government is attempting to hand out "tens of millions of vaccine jabs by April but the PM has been accused of doing too little too late.

Prof Pagel said "the chances are quite high" the current measures will fail and suggested the Government should pay infected people a living wage to self-isolate, as lack of cash was forcing many not to.

She added: "Key workers now seem to be anyone who feels like it. Schools are 50% full, nurseries are open, places of worship… you have support bubbles, so there is a lot more mixing than in March.

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"We have to start thinking about mandatory isolation, like in China and Vietnam. We have lots of empty hotels. We could use that space."

In Wuhan a year ago, officials carried out door-to-door checks and forced ill people to isolate.

Mr Costello said only "a total clampdown" would be enough to stop the virus.

He said: "We are in a national crisis with a pandemic out of control.

"We should have no nurseries open, no synagogues, no churches, no mosques. We should have compulsory masks, two-metre distancing."

He added: "We have to take this really seriously – that’s what Asian states did. The longer we allow it to go on transmitting, the quicker we are going to get a resistant virus to a vaccine, then we are in real doo-doo."

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