British Lockdown Ten Days Too Late, Says Italian Healthcare Adviser

Tourist wearing a protective respiratory mask tours outside the Colosseo monument (Colisee, Coliseum) in downtown Rome on February 28, 2020 amid fear of Covid-19 epidemic. - Since February 23, more than 50,000 people have been confined to 10 towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto -- a drastic measure taken …
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images

The scientific adviser who called for Italy’s lockdown says Britain was ten days too late in doing the same to have a significant impact on the outbreak and, as a result, is now at risk of having a worse coronavirus infection rate than his own country.

Professor Walter Ricciardi, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert and scientific adviser for the Italian government, told Sky News that the United Kingdom had the advantage of seeing how the deadly pandemic played out in his home country and should have acted sooner as a result.

He gave the example of seeing crowded trains on the London Underground in recent weeks when Italy was already aware of how dangerous that kind of close contact during a pandemic can be.

When asked when Prime Minister Boris Johnson should have locked down Britain Prof Ricciardi said: “I would say, at least ten days ago.”

“Having had the example of Italy, the UK could have adopted [the strategy] much earlier,” he said, remarking that the cases which have been transmitted in the past ten days would not have been as a result of a sooner lockdown.

“When we scientists put the evidence on your table, you should take action,” Prof Ricciardi added, warning: “When you take this position later than possible, you pay a price in sick people and in deaths. Certainly, this is something that could have been avoided.”

The doctor added that the delay in locking down the country had actually resulted in the possibility of the current national quarantine being longer than it otherwise should have been, saying the duration could be “at least one month but I guess it could be even longer”.

Britain is thought to be around two weeks behind the curve from Italy, which is the worst-hit nation in the world, officially with fatalities surpassing those put out by the government of the China, where the coronavirus originated.

While the British government’s advisers claim that the National Health Service (NHS) is within capacity to cope with the worst of the virus, thanks to the lockdown and an increase in staff and ICU beds, the country is still vastly short on life-saving equipment, notably ventilators, which industrialists are rushing to produce in the coming weeks.

Deaths in Britain continue to climb, with London and Gwent, Wales the worst-hit regions.

One hospital specialist said that London clinics are experiencing “tsunamis” of coronavirus patients, warning that the capital city’s hospitals could be overwhelmed in “days”.

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