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Coronavirus UK: 20,000 or fewer deaths 'good outcome'

UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance reveals numbers in government strategy

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 17.03.2020
Coronavirus UK: 20,000 or fewer deaths 'good outcome'

LONDON

Britain’s chief scientific advisor on Tuesday said the government strategy in fighting COVID-19 strain involves thousands of deaths and it would be a "good outcome" if 20,000 or fewer people died due to the virus.

Giving evidence in a parliamentary select committee, Sir Patrick Vallance said the number of infected across the U.K. might have been between 35,000 and 55,000 at the moment.

The chair of the Health and Social Care Committee and the former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt asked Vallance if the British government's approach involved reducing the numbers of deaths from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands.

"That is the hope, that we can get it down to that,” Vallance said.

He said: "To put that into perspective, every year in seasonal flu the number of deaths is thought to be about 8,000.

"So if we can get this [number of coronavirus cases] down to numbers of 20,000 and below, that is a good outcome."

"It is still horrible. That is still an enormous amount of deaths,” he added.

"It is still enormous pressure on the health services".

The revelation on government strategies came on a day when the number of infected people has risen to 1,950, according to health officials, with an increase of 407 more cases since yesterday.

He added: “We might need to do more. I’ve been very clear from the beginning, there’s a whole range of things we need to look at -- all of them are on the table.

“We might need to do more and at some point we might need to back off and be able to monitor what is the consequence of backing off.”

The latest updated number of deaths from coronavirus is 55 in the country.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab advised British citizens to avoid all but necessary travel abroad.

British government has changed course yesterday, advising public social distancing and to avoid all unnecessary social contacts and non-essential travel.

It also started to give daily press conferences on the situation in the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a press conference yesterday that schools will remain open but he advised all restaurants, pubs and theatres to close to decrease the chances of further spread of the strain.

COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 152 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Out of over 189,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 7,500, while over 80,500 patients have recovered, according to Worldometer, a website that compiles new case numbers.

The current number of active cases is more than 100,000 -- 94% mild and 6% in critical condition.

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