‘80% of us will get coronavirus’: Scientific adviser to the Government says there is no more risk at work than at home and insists we ‘cannot hide from it forever’
- You’re no more at risk at work than you are at home, claims Government adviser
- Rupert Shute’s comments feed into debate over lockdown effectiveness
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says it is too early to lift the measures in place
- A spokesperson for the Prime Minister appeared to dismiss Shute’s comments
The row over Britain’s coronavirus lockdown intensified last night after a Government scientific adviser said the country ‘cannot hide away forever’ from the disease.
Rupert Shute, the deputy scientific adviser at the Home Office, predicted that 80 per cent of people would get the disease anyway.
Speaking to passport officials in an attempt to urge them to return to work, Mr Shute said that while staying home was important, ‘we also have to keep functioning our lives’.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he is treated for the coronavirus, has said it is ‘too early’ to begin lifting lockdown measures
His comments will feed into the row over whether Britain has followed a ‘herd immunity’ strategy and over how long the lockdown should last.
The World Trade Organisation has warned of the potential of a deep economic recession caused by the clampdown, and some MPs are already calling for the restrictions to be eased.
But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is standing in for the incapacitated Prime Minister, effectively confirmed last night that lockdown measures will be rolled over next week, saying it was ‘too early’ to lift them. But he said scientists and ministers hoped to have enough evidence by the end of next week to start assessing how long they will need to last.
Police Officers enforce the lockdown measures at Central London’s Trafalgar Square, asking people to leave the square and abide by the social distancing measures
Up to 2,000 workers at the Passport Office are being asked to go back into work. The Home Office said it was adhering to Public Health England’s guidance and maintaining social distancing at passport offices.
Mr Shute made the comments during a conference call with Passport Office staff. He said: ‘You are no more at risk at the workplace as you would be in your home or at the supermarket. It is about minimising it. We are working on the assessment that 80 per cent of us, if we haven’t already, will get the virus. We cannot hide away from it forever.’
Thursday again saw people join the weekly applause to show thanks to the NHS staff who continue to work in hospitals to treat people who are suffering from the coronavirus
Mr Shute’s comments appear to echo previous Government briefings that up to 80 per cent of people will eventually contract coronavirus. But yesterday the PM’s official spokesman appeared to dismiss Mr Shute’s view when they said: ‘The Government’s view is on stopping the spread of the disease to save lives.’
The Public and Commercial Services union, which represents passport workers, said members should work from home unless undertaking critical work.