Argument for regional variation in lifting lockdown not convincing – chief medical officer

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty speaks during a daily digital news conference on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain April 22, 2020. Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – There is not a convincing argument for strong regional variations in the approach to lifting the coronavirus lockdown measures because the epidemic is similar across the country, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Friday.

Whitty told a committee of lawmakers that although some parts of the country had been worse hit by the outbreak, the peak Britain was going through at the moment was “an artificial peak, almost the same everywhere” because lockdown measures were imposed across the country at the same time.

“We are confident that the great majority of the population have not had COVID … and therefore the ability for this to take off again in a really serious second wave if we are not careful is absolutely identical,” he said.

“The argument for strong regional variation in what we do is not a terribly convincing one,” he said, adding that compared to countries such as China and Italy, the epidemic had been much more similar across the country so “the arguments for a regional approach are less strong”.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper; editing by William James

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