A FORMER top Government adviser has warned pub landlords to stop serving indoors and says 27,000 more could die under the current government approach.
Former chief scientific adviser Sir David King urged ministers to focus on reducing the rate of infection to zero, or risk tens of thousands more deaths.
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Sir David, who has been critical of the government’s response, said it looked as though current policy was to “maintain” a level of about 3,000 new infections per day across England.
The scientific expert described the rate of new infections as “almost entirely preventable and absolutely unacceptable and immoral”.
Instead, he argued that the goal should be to get down to no new coronavirus cases at all.
In an interview with Sky News, Sir David explained: “What we are saying is 27,000 excess deaths are likely between now and next April if the expectation by the chief medical officer is that he would be surprised and delighted if the UK is in the same place next spring.
“If he’s correct we would still have about 2,000 to 3,000 new infections in England per day and that is the number of deaths that would follow from that.”
His comments comes come as pubs, restaurants, cafes and hair salons reopened across England on Saturday for the first time since March.
The scientific expert argued that pubs should only be allowed to serve people outdoors where social distancing could be properly maintained.
“I fully understand publicans who would like to be getting back to full operation but I would also advise anybody, publicans included, only open up that area of your pub where people can be outdoors and serve people outdoors who are not brushing into each other going into the pub,” he said.
“There are means for achieving these objectives, but we have to be patient, and if we are not patient, it’s not just a second wave, but if it bumps along at 3,000 per day, that is what produces this additional 27,000 deaths.
“If we want to return to full economic growth as quickly as possible – get rid of the COVID virus.”
Sir David was chief scientific adviser between 2000 and 2007 and is the chairman of Independent SAGE – a rival group separate to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies which advises Downing Street.
He has been a vocal critic of Downing Street during the crisis.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock though said the biggest easing of restrictions so far had been a “success” and claimed the drinkers had “very, very, largely acted responsibly”.
Cities across England were packed with drinkers on their first night out in more than 100 days, and pubs were packed today as pubgoers enjoyed a drink in the sun.
The UK’s official coronavirus death toll currently stands at 44,200.
There have now been a total of 285,416 cases of coronavirus recorded in Britain to date.