Coronavirus map LIVE: Cambridge scientists reveal strict lockdown plan would last 18months | UK | News

Alternating between 50 days of strict lockdown measures and 30 days of more relaxed social distancing measures could be the best way to defeat coronavirus, Cambridge University scientists have suggested. They argue such a scenario would drastically reduce the UK death toll, but it could take over 18months to stamp out the virus.

The researchers warned if governments did nothing and instead let the virus run rampant through the population, the outbreak could be over in just six months – but at a horrific cost to human life.

They estimate millions of people would die.

In order to avoid this, the Cambridge scientists suggested alternating between periods of strictness and lenience.

They said such a scenario would: “Allow populations and their natural economies to breathe at intervals – a potential that might make this solution more sustainable.”

It could also help healthcare systems prepare for spikes in the virus and increase efforts to develop a vaccine and new treatments, they said.

Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, an epidemiologist at Cambridge, led the research which was modelled on 16 countries around the world.

Those were Australia, Belgium, Chile, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Afghanistan and Burkina Faso.

None of the countries are currently known to be using the 50/30 method, so the epidemiologists modelled its effects on what they would expect in each nation.

Dr Chowdhury recognised the UK was not included in the research but said: “Although we didn’t model the situation in the UK, I’d expect it to be very similar to that in other high income countries.”


8.16am update: Government advisers warn schools should remain shut

Two members of the Government’s scientific advisory council have said schools should not reopen until a new system to trace the spread of the coronavirus has been proven successful.

Downing Street has not yet said when contact tracing will start or disclosed how it will operate.

Professor John Edmunds, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Sky News a “well functioning track and trace system” was needed before lockdown was eased any further – including the reopening of schools.

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