Coronavirus expert says society is ‘at war’ in fight against global pandemic

A coronavirus expert has said the fight against a global pandemic is like being 'at war' with the virus.

CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations Dr Richard Hatchett said the virus had the potential to spread to 50% of the population worldwide.

He said: "I think the threat is very significant.

"The potential of the virus is demonstrated in china and demonstrated in Italy and Iran.

"There were three cases in Italy two weeks ago – yesterday there were over 3,000."

Speaking about how China has responded to the outbreak, he said: "It is like they are at war with the virus – all of society is mobilised in the fight against the virus."

On the UK's fight to halt the spread, he added: "We have to recognise the virus is here and it has tremendous potential to be disruptive and to cause high rates of illness or even death – but that is not a future that is locked in.


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"Contact tracing is very imp – voluntary quarantine of contacts and isolation of cases is very imp – there may be a time to close schools.

"We know that schools are amplification points in society – attack rates are much higher in children and the elderly.

"Children have been minimally affected by COVID-19 whats unclear is whether they have been infected and handled the infections well or maybe they are not being affected."

Dr Hatchett suggested the virus may have been in the UK for weeks before it was detected.

He added: "If you look at places where death has occurred – England now falls into that category – a death signifies circulation of the virus that has been going on for at least weeks.


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"It takes time for people to get sick, go to the hospital and expire – the virus has been circulating here for some time.

"I think the most concerning thing is the combination of infectiousness and the ability to cause disease and death.

"Not since 1918, the Spanish flu – have we seen a virus combining these qualities in this way.

"What happens with this virus is up to us – I do think this has the potential to cause a global pandemic."

To tackle the spread, Dr Hatchett said we need to work collectively as a society in our prevention and not think of our own, personal risk only.

He added: "We need to start thinking of the social risk- we need to all think about our responsibility to each other.

"We cant view the epidemic in terms of our person risk- we need to act collectively."

The UK now has 163 coronavirus cases after 47 more people were diagnosed in the last 24 hours in the biggest day-on-day increase so far.

A man in his 80s, who had underlying health conditions, is feared to have become  the second person to die in the UK.

He was being treated at Milton Keynes Hospital in Buckinghamshire and samples taken from him are being tested for Covid-19.

It comes a day after a woman in her 70s, who also had pre-existing medical conditions, became the first to die after catching the flu-like virus, which has now infected more than 100,000 people around the world.

Scotland reported five more cases and two  British Airways baggage handlers, who work at Heathrow Airport, have tested positive  for the killer bug.

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