BRITAIN 'waited until 1.5m people were infected with coronavirus before the lockdown' as experts today claimed 'dithering' wasted 22 days.
The UK introduced the strict measures on March 23 – with the number of infections well above European countries including Italy and Spain's when they announced draconian rules to stop the spread.
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Figures from the Imperial College suggest the number of new daily infections had hit 286,528 by the time the lockdown was introduced in the UK.
A source who was involved in advising Downing Street at the time claimed herd immunity had been central to government plans in late February and early March.
They told the Sunday Times: "There was always this message coming straight down of, ‘We’ve all got to get it."
And a government source added that lockdown was only started to be considered as an option at the start of March .
They said: "I think a sense of, ‘It can’t really be that bad’ was important in explaining the delay.
"I think an overarching concern — and why so much time was spent looking at alternatives involving mitigation and shielding — was that everyone, especially Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and the policy people, knew what the economic and social costs of lockdown would be."
But on Wednesday, March 11, Anthony Costello, professor of global health at University College London and a former World Health Organisation director, tweeted a stark warning.
He said: "We’re simply not doing enough now.
"We shd [sic] ban mass gatherings, close parliaments, alert all health workers about protective equipment and hygiene, close schools/colleges, promote home working wherever possible, and protect workers in the gig economy.
"Every day of delay will kill.”
DITHERING AND DELAY
New daily cases: 2,405
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Scientists warn up to 250,000 could die without drastic action being taken
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First UK death announced
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France bans gatherings of more than 1,000 people
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Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific officer, claims crowds "don't make much difference" to stopping the spread of the deadly bug
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The four-day Cheltenham festival begins with around 60,000 punters attending
New daily cases: 26,661
Boris Johnson calls pandemic "the worst public health crisis for a generation" as ten deaths are recored
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Vallance says that the government's strategy had been based on building up "some degree of herd immunity"
New daily cases: 43,204
France and Spain announce lockdown measures
New daily cases: 54,774
Ireland closes all pubs, bars and hotels
New daily cases: 64,498
Brits told to work from home if possible
New daily cases: 81,336
Vallance says that if the UK deathtoll stays below 20,000 it will be a "good outcome"
New daily cases: 158,423
Schools are closed indefeinitely and all puvs, restaurants, cinemas and gyms are told to shut
New daily cases: 286,528
Boris Johnson announces lockdown
Three days later, France and Spain introduced their lockdown measures, when the number of estimated daily new cases of the virus in the UK had already hit more than 43,000.
On March 16, the Prime Minister warned the public to avoid all non-essential contact.
But it wasn't until March 23 – nine days after France and Spain and 22 days after Boris Johnson announced the country was "very, very well prepared" for the pandemic that it was announced the country would go into lockdown.
By then, there were 1.5million cases overall, with the number of new cases estimated in one day to have hit 286,000.
The UK death toll now sits at more than 36,000 with more than 257,000 cases according to government figures.
And the Office for National Statistics this week warned the true number of fatalities across the UK could be more than 44,000.
Meanwhile, coronavirus was responsible for 39.2 per cent of all deaths in care homes.
Worryingly, the London School for Economics has previously estimated the death toll in care homes could be as high as 22,000.
The PM will tomorrow update ministers at a Cabinet meeting on the next moves as the pandemic has finally started to slow.
Guidance will be issued to shops and attractions that will resume business in step two of his road map back to “near-normal”, starting on June 1.
Mr Johnson will also disclose details of his new “world-beating” test, track and trace system aimed at defeating coronavirus in a “whack-a-mole” assault.
He will demand more tests are carried out so infected people can be isolated.
The Government has recruited an army of contact tracers that will soon be mobile.
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